Currently on View in Eiteljorg Suite of African and Oceanic Art (W302)
Plaques made by the "lost wax" process were once displayed within the palace complex at Benin City. The subject matter of the plaques includes formally posed kings, chiefs, court attendants, leopards and other animals. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to link a particular individual or historic event with a given plaque.
This plaque depicts an important military leader. The ceremonial sword in his left hand; anklets; bracelets; and collar assembly of coral beads, leopard teeth and brass bell indicate rank. The barbed spear in his right hand and the sheathed sword at his waist are typical weapons. He wears a garment from which beads or bells are suspended. His hat has leather or cloth side pieces and a front panel possibly of metal.
The background surface of this plaque is adorned with leaf patterns and circular designs; the side panels are covered with a pattern of interlacing curved lines. The holes reveal the placement of nails to attach this plaque to a palace wall. As is typical of Benin court art, the surface of this object is completely covered.
Pitt-Rivers Museum Farnham, Dorset, England; Jeff C. Leff [1925-2000] Uniontown, PA; (Judith Ganeles, New York) sold on May 25, 1977 to Harrison Eiteljorg [1903-1997] of Indianapolis; donated to the IMA 1989