head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother
head of queen mother

Image Resources | Currently on View in Eiteljorg Suite of African and Oceanic Art

head of queen mother

Benin Kingdom Edo people


Altars were maintained to commemorate past kings (Obas).  These altars supported a variety of ritual objects, such as human heads of cast brass, which were the focus of periodic rituals.  These rituals honored past royals.  The altar heads served as a spiritual link between royal ancestors and the Edo people of the Benin Kingdom.

All queen mother heads include a distinct one-shaped crown and collar.  In life, the crown and collar were composed primarily of high status imported red coral beads.  Over the eyes are scarifications, and between these are two marks indicating smears of sacrificial blood.

Objects of cast brass are made by the lost-wax technique.  A brass caster begins with a lump of beeswax, which is modeled into the object being made.  Details are impressed into the wax or applied with threads of additional wax.  After the wax model is finished, it is covered with clay and left to dry for several days.

The clay covering is then heated to remove the wax, hence the term "lost-wax."  Molten brass is poured into the empty space once occupied by the wax.  The clay mold is plunged into water and broken open.  The brass casting is then removed and its surface is cleaned.

(Papa Diop [1948-2012], Los Angeles, CA and Robert Jones, Indianapolis) {1} sold on December 14, 1977 to Harrison Eitlejorg [1903-1997] of Indianapolis; donated to the IMA 1989

{1} Robert Jones also sold under the name Robert Fitzgerald

Object Information

culture
Benin Kingdom
culture
Edo people
creation date
late 18th century
materials
brass, iron
dimensions
H: 17 1/8
accession number
1989.821
credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg
copyright
Public Domain
collection
African Art
colors