Recreation of a Royal Ancestral Altar


This file appears in: Benin Museum
Recreation of a Royal Ancestral Altar
┬ęKathy Curnow

This exhibit, now disassembled for a new exhibition, recreated the semi-circular earthen form used as an altar for a specific past Oba. The ukhurhe, or carved wooden ancestral staffs, are the most critical piece of altar furniture. Every Benin ancestral altar can include ukhurhe, although the figures at the top vary and can indicate rank. While all male citizens are entitled to ukhurhe topped by heads, royal ukhurhe often show a clenched fist or a fist holding a mudfish. Royal altars also include brass representations of Oba's heads, placed in multiples of two, as well as ivory tusks, brass bells, and a centrally-placed aseberia group sculpture. White kaolin "chalk" (orhue) and prehistoric stone axe heads round out the display. Actual royal altars are more crowdedly decorated than this educational display.


This file appears in: Benin Museum