Plaque of an Oba or Warrior with Attendants

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Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Plaque of an Oba or Warrior with Attendants, Mid-16th/17th century

Copper alloy
45.6 x 35 x 8.9 cm (17 15/16 x 13 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.)
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program
Photograph by Franko Khoury, 82-5-3

An elite entourage—including an eben sword carrier, a side-blown horn player, and a sword bearer (the sword now missing)—accompany the oba or high-ranking war chief that is the central figure on this plaque. The man is dressed in grand ceremonial attire with a coralcrown, high collar, arm cuffs, and anklets; a tasseled leopard-face tunic; and a warrior’s leopard-tooth necklace and bell. It is likely that the plaque depicts the Isiokuo festival, which featured a parade showcasing Benin’s military strength.