Benin Bronze Head – Medium
Amongst other things, these figures represent ancestors and spirits to whom people address their needs & desires. They may be placed on personal or village shrines & offerings made to them to propitiate the ancestors in invoking protection, good luck & prosperity or fertility.
Some are used as dolls to teach young girls the functions of motherhood and may be treated as a real baby or child – to the extent that they are “fed” and nurtured as if alive. These figures are made of Bronze using the lost wax method of casting. This entails creating the sculpture in wax first, then packing clay around the sculpture and melting the wax out of the hollow. The hollow is filled with molten bronze. When the bronze has cooled the clay is broken away to reveal the sculpture. With this technique, only one original sculpture can be made from each wax model.
Bronze is a valuable metal in Africa and this figure would be regarded as a status symbol. These figures depict members of the king’s entourage.
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