Waist Pendant of an Oba with Attendants

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Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Waist Pendant of an Oba with Attendants, 18th century

18.8 x 12.7 x 4 cm (7 3/8 x 5 x 1 9/16 in.)
© The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, A1985.308

In Benin the number three is associated with otherworldly powers. U-shaped waist pendants depicting the oba supported by two attendants were worn in sets of three by the oba and certain high-ranking officials. The abundant coral regalia and the mudfish that emerge from the belt worn by the oba, at center, identify him with Olokun, the god of the waters. The oba’s access to occult powers is announced by the mudfish that emerge from the face at his feet. The supernaturally charged stone bead (ivie egbo), worn at his chest, signifies his legitimacy.

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