Projections from the Head


This file appears in: Oba's Palace, Benin City, Nigeria
Projections from the Head
©Trustees of the British Museum, Af1897,1224.1
Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Since the 17th century, ivory tusks carved by the Igbesanmwan guild have been inserted into the holes at the top of brass royal ancestral heads on palace shrines. They were placed so the tip rested against the wall and relieved the tusk weight.

While the heads themselves were generic royal representations, the crowded motifs on the tusks bore references to particular Obas, as Blackmun has noted. They frequently contain repeated depictions of the fish-legged figure who represents either the sea deity Olokun or Oba Ohen or all monarchs in divine aspects. Other common figures include chiefs, the queen mother, traders, and animals.


This file appears in: Oba's Palace, Benin City, Nigeria