Head (Uhunmwun Elao)

A work made of brass.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of brass.

Date:

18th/early 19th century

Artist:

Edo, Kingdom of Benin
Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

This brass head was commissioned by a newly crowned king for an altar commemorating a previous ruler, most likely the king’s father. Its shape imitates the regal coral-beaded collar and cap and served as the pedestal for a carved elephant tusk, the white color of which signaled the king’s divine and sacred nature. In Benin thought, the head is an important symbol of authority and power. Through this portrait a king channeled his deified ancestors to vitalize and protect his reign.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artist

Edo

Title

Head (Uhunmwun Elao)

Origin

Nigeria

Date

1701–1825

Medium

Brass

Dimensions

H. 32.4 cm (12 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment

Reference Number

2003.16

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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