Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Dignitary, Possibly the Attah of Idah, on Horseback, 16th century
48 x 15 x 31 cm (18 7/8 x 5 7/8 x 12 3/16 in.)
The Trustees of the British Museum, London, Af1944,04.13
Early in Oba Esigie's reign, Benin fought with Idah, a state located north on the Middle Niger River, for control of the flow of goods to and from the coast. The attah (king) of Idah brought his armies up to the very gates of Benin City before they were repulsed and defeated. With this victory over Idah, the Benin Kingdom instituted control of trade in the Middle Niger River region, a dominance that it did not relinquish until the late 19th century. Compelling arguments suggest that the mounted rider meticulously depicted in this sculpture is the defeated attah.