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Pendant showing an Oba (King) and two dignitaries

Edo peoples, Benin kingdom, Nigeria
18th–19th century
Artist Unidentified


Dimensions

Length x width: 18.4 x 13.3 cm (7 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

2018.222

Medium or Technique

Copper alloy

On View

Benin Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 172)

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Jewelry

Classifications

Pendants

This bronze pendant depicts the king, or Oba, of Benin, with his arms upheld by two special courtiers. These courtiers, called enobore, dress like the king and accompany him in public. The relationship between the Oba and enobore is a metaphor for the relationship between the Oba and his people–he is sacred, and thus above his subjects, but his rule also requires their allegiance and support. All three men wear a fortune in coral beads, as well as crowns with a projection called an oro, a symbol of leadership in the region.

Provenance

18th/19th century, probably commissioned from the Igun Eronmwon, or royal brasscasters guild, by a member of the court of Benin. By 1984, Mathias Komor (dealer; d. 1984), New York; by 1984, sold by Komor to Robert Owen Lehman, New York; 2018, gift of Robert Owen Lehman to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 19, 2018)

Credit Line

Robert Owen Lehman Collection