Exhibitions/ Art Object
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Head of an Oba

Date:
18th century
Geography:
Nigeria, Court of Benin
Culture:
Edo peoples
Medium:
Brass, iron
Dimensions:
H. 13 1/8 x W. 9 3/8 x D. 10 3/8 in. (33.3 x 23.8 x 26.4 cm)
Classification:
Metal-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 1991
Accession Number:
1991.17.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
The overall cylindrical shape, beaded collar covering the chin, and addition of bead clusters to the crown identify this Benin brass head as belonging to the eighteenth century. The crown, with its pattern of crisscrossed beads with junctures marked by a dot in the center, is characteristic of this period, as are the three raised marks above each eye which are called ikharo, believed to represent scarification marks. Men would usually have three, while women and foreigners would wear four. The pointed oval eyes are outlined with heavy stylized rims, which are not decorated with incisions like those of later examples. Additionally there is no wide-lipped flange at the base of the head, which became an integral component of nineteenth-century heads.
[W. D. Webster, London, acquired by 1900]; (Sotheby's, London, July 8, 1974, no. 83); [Matthias Komor, New York]; Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, New York, until 1991

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