Exhibitions/ Art Object

Head of an Oba

18th century
Nigeria, Court of Benin
Edo peoples
Brass, iron
H. 13 1/8 x W. 9 3/8 x D. 10 3/8 in. (33.3 x 23.8 x 26.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 1991
Accession Number:
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

Related Objects

Head of an Oba

Date: 16th century Medium: Brass Accession: 1979.206.86 On view in:Gallery 352

Plaque: Warrior and Attendants

Date: 16th–17th century Medium: Brass Accession: 1990.332 On view in:Gallery 352

Male Figure: Court Official

Date: 16th–17th century Medium: Brass Accession: 1991.17.32 On view in:Gallery 352

Plaque: Equestrian Oba and Attendants

Date: 1550–1680 Medium: Brass Accession: 1978.412.309 On view in:Gallery 352

Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba

Date: 16th century Medium: Ivory, iron, copper (?) Accession: 1978.412.323 On view in:Gallery 352