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Dimensions: L:34.3in W:7.1in D:7.9in
Benin Bronze Heads refer to a collection of exquisite brass and bronze sculptures created by the Edo people of the Kingdom of Benin, which is located in present-day Nigeria. These sculptures are renowned for their artistic excellence and historical significance. The term "Benin Bronze Heads" specifically refers to the portrait heads, but the Benin bronzes encompass a wider range of artworks, including plaques, figures, and other objects. The Benin Bronze Heads were created during the period of the Benin Empire, which reached its peak of power and artistic expression between the 14th and 17th centuries. These sculptures were primarily commissioned by the royal court to commemorate the obas (kings) and other important figures. They served as representations of the rulers' power, ancestry, and divine connections.
About the Tribe
The Edo tribe, also referred to as the Bini people (derived from Benin), can be found in Edo State in the south of Nigeria, although they can also be found spread across the Delta, Ondo and Rivers states. The Edo/Bini-speaking ethnic groups include the Esan, the Afemai, the Isoko, the Urhobo among others. They are the descendants of the people who founded the ancient and mighty Kingdom of Benin which was founded around the year 900, but it reached the height of its power in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as a result of the conquests of new territories by two kings —Oba Ewuare and his son Oba Ozolua (Oba means “king”). The Obas of Benin amassed great wealth by controlling trade routes reaching from the river Niger in the East to the western border with the kingdom of Dahomey. In Benin City, craft workers were organised into groups known as guilds. There were guilds for wood carvers, ivory carvers, leather workers, blacksmiths and weavers. Most important of all was the brass casters’ guild. They were only allowed to work for the Oba (king). The name Benin was derived from “Ubinu” which was used to describe the capital of the kingdom. But was then mispronounced by the Portuguese as “Bini” and then further to Benin around 1485 when the Portuguese began trade relations with Oba Ewuare who was the traditional ruler at the time.
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