200617 - Rare Tribal used Old Bronze Benin mask - Nigeria.
Nigeria: Rare Old Tribal used Bronze Benin mask.
Height: 23 cm.
The powerful ancient Benin kingdom was founded by the son of an Ife king in the early 14th century AD. It was situated in the forest area of southern Nigeria, 106 miles southeast of Ife. The art of bronze casting was introduced around the year 1280. The kingdom reached its maximum size and artistic splendor in the 15th and 16th century. For a long time the Benin bronze sculptures were the only historical evidence dating back several centuries into the West African past, and both the level of technical accomplishment attained in bronze casting, as well as the monumental vigor of the figures represented, were the object of great admiration. Benin bronzes are better known than the artworks from Ife or Owo due to their presence in Western museums since 1890s. In the thirteenth century, the city of Benin was an agglomeration of farms enclosed by walls and a ditch. Each clan was subject to the oba (king). The “Benin style” is a court art from the palace of the oba, and has nothing in common with tribal art. The Benin oba employed a guild of artisans who all lived in the same district of the city. Bronze figures ordered by the king were kept in the palace. The empire flourished until 1897, when the palace was sacked by the English in reprisal for an ambush that had cost the British vice-consul his life.