Page 1 of 1 pages

Head of an Oba or king


Head of an oba (king), from the Edo people of Benin, West Africa, mid to late 16th century. When each oba died, a head would be created to be placed on an ancestral shrine alongside other objects. The heads served as mediums through which ancestors could ask the spirits of their descendants for the wealth of the kingdom. Brass was highly valued by the Edo, as it was rare and expensive. As it was red and shiny when new, it signified beauty. As the metal never corrodes or rusts it also signified the continuity of kingship. The head is depicted wearing a coral crown, part of the royal regalia, which could only be worn by the king. All the objects in the oba’s palace were removed by a British naval expedition in 1898. Benin came under British control and the Oba was sent into exile.

Creator: Edo of Benin

Date: mid to late 16th century

Copyright: Copyright BCC Museum

Object ID:Ea 7821

Page 1 of 1 pages