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Edo peoples, Benin kingdom, Nigeria
Length x width: 6.4 x 2.5 cm (2 1/2 x 1 in.)
Medium or Technique
Benin Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 172)
This beautifully detailed figure fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The figure is wearing a leopard-tooth necklace and a bell, two accessories frequently worn by Benin warriors in the 16th century. Because of the object’s rounded base and the small feather-shaped loop on the back of the helmet, many think it may have been worn as a pendant. But scholar Kathy Curnow has identified this as a game piece in a pastime that reprises Oba Esigie’s success against the Idah in 1517.
By 1960, John Russell, London; July 11, 1972, Russell and others sale, Sotheby’s, London, lot 269, to James Kirkman for £ 2,000. 2012, promised gift of Robert Owen Lehman to the MFA.
Robert Owen Lehman Collection