Gallery Asset

Benin Plaques

Early accounts of visitors to Benin describe the palace’s enormous size and scale. Some of its atriums had galleries with wooden pillars supporting the roof. Brass plaques, possibly made in series, were fixed to these pillars. While belonging to well-established West African tradition of royal palace decoration, the Benin brass plaques represent a distinct and unique corpus of work, unparalleled elsewhere on the continent. They are cast using the cire perdue (lost wax) technique and show significant variation in the depth of the relief. Some of the plaques portray historical events or commemorate successful wars, while others are a vivid depiction of Benin court life and ritual. This one shows a Portuguese visitor to the royal court.

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Type: photo
Date: 1700s
Location: Benin, Nigeria
Continent: Africa