Altar (asen)

mid-19th to early 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Ouidah, Republic of Benin


160.02 x 43.18 cm (63 x 17 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Iron, iron oxide encrustation

On View

Richard B. Carter Gallery (Gallery 171)


Africa and Oceania


Raw materials and by-products

Forged iron staffs were placed in Fon family shrines as memorials to the dead. This example comes from Ouidah, an important coastal trading town. The platform tableau consists of a central figure with top hat and pipe, seated before a table arrayed with containers and flanked by sacrificial animals, French flags, and a cross. The central figure probably represents the special minister called Yovogan, who was named by King Guezo (1818-1858) to oversee foreigners and trading houses in Ouidah.


January, 1989, collected in the Republic of Benin and acquired by Charles Davis, Davis Gallery, New Orleans; July, 1989, sold by Davis Gallery to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 30, 1992)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel