Plaque of a Seated Oba with Attendants

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Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Plaque of a Seated Oba with Attendants, 16th/17th century

45.5 x 38.2 x 10 cm (17 7/8 x 15 x 3 15/16 in.)
The Trustees of the British Museum, London, Af1898,0115.26

The image of theoba flanked by attendants who support his arms is among the most prominent symbols of royal authority in Benin. On this plaque, the pose is enacted with the oba seated and his attendants kneeling. They wear coral collars, shirts, anklets, and caps with prominent projections extending from the top, indicating that they are the high priests osa and osuan. pendants hang from their belts, and the oba’s leopard-face pendant is clearly visible on his lap. The plaque records the group praying during Ague, a sacred series of rites that sanctified the land in order to promote a bountiful harvest.