Exhibitions/ Art Object

Rooster Figure

18th century
Nigeria, Court of Benin
Edo peoples
Overall: 17 7/8 in. (45.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
Brass roosters are placed on ancestral altars commemorating the queen mothers of Benin. They stand for fowl and other animals that are sacrificed during rituals honoring royal ancestors. These explicitly male creatures acknowledge that the queen mother is different from other women and shares many powers and privileges with men. In depicting these birds, Benin brass casters indulge their love of dense overall patterns. Although stylized, these incised designs deftly suggest the rooster's showy plumage, scaly legs, and dimpled comb.
#997: Kids: Rooster Figure, Part 1
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#997. Rooster Figure
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[Charles Ratton, Paris, acquired by 1930]; Louis Carré, Paris, acquired by 1932; [Michael Knoedler & Co., New York, Paris, London, acquired by ca. 1936]; Edward S. and Mary Stillman Harkness, New York, 1936–1940; Mary Stillman Harkness, New York and Connecticut, 1940–(d.) 1950

von Luschan, Felix. Die Altertümer von Benin. Berlin, Leipiz: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1919.

Duchartre, Pierre Louis. "Poids et figurines nègres." Art et Décoration vol. 57 (May 1930), p. 147.

Segy, Ladislas. African Sculpture Speaks. New York: L. Hill, 1955, fig. 94.

Millot, Jacques. Arts Connus et Méconnus de l'Afrique Noire: Collection Paul Tishman. Paris: Musée de l'Homme, 1966.

Dagen, Philippe, and Maureen Murphy. Charles Ratton: L'invention des arts primitifs. Paris: Skira Flammarion, 2013, p. 79, fig. 50.

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