Bronze Head Essay

1660 words - 7 pages

While I was unable to attend the museums in New York I was able to go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. While I was at both museums I saw that both African art collections had a number of bronze heads of leaders and kings. I noticed that both museums had almost the identical bronze head of the king, so I decided to dedicate this paper on the bronze heads of the Benin kingdom, and the Edo peoples.
The bronze head to the upper left is the commemorative head of a neighboring leader, the artist of this artwork is an unidentified African it is made of copper alloy, iron. The creation of this sculpture is said to be around the ...view middle of the document...

There is a particular emphasis given on the collar and crown which is made of imported coral beads.
Many historians and researchers believe that the statue head on the upper left of the defeated neighboring head is actually a depiction of a fallen enemies, who lost in battle, and that it in fact a trophy displaying their victory in war. “The thinnest castings, usually the most naturalistic of the heads, are the earliest. Although the facial features on these works are not realistic enough for imitative portraits, the heads are quite sensitively modeled and many are very strong sculptured. Some scholars believe that the heads of the males…do not commemorate Benin kings but rather depict conquered rulers, and that they were displayed on war shrines as trophies of victory [1].” The title of the art work as can help the historians’ argument that the head of the defeated neighboring leader is actually a fallen enemy leader. It’s called defeated neighboring leader, the leader could have been trying to take over the kingdom and lost at war and was defeated. So in honor of their victory over him they made a cast of his head as a trophy. In the brass head of the fallen leader to the left the details are less than the head of Oba to the right and bottom right. In both of the king Oba sculpted brass heads the top of the head, the crown, is greatly detailed the defeated leader. The rings around the necks of Oba can be a symbol of power and wealthy, which can be explain to why both the kings have a massive amount of rings around the neck. It is to demonstrate their power and their kingship. While the defeated leader has a brick like design around his neck, but there is not rings. If he was king or a leader of a neighboring kingdom, and they were honoring him why aren’t their rings around his neck showing his power and wealth as a king? Unfortunately there is no one from the Benin kingdom from 15th-16th century to tell us which purpose it is supposed to be all we can do is admire the work. No matter how much you can try to guess if he was an enemy and this sculpture was for a victory shrine, or it was to commemorate a fallen neighboring leader and for honoring purposes, it doesn’t distract from the amount of detail and time that went into the art piece and the same goes to all three of them.
All three of these commemorative heads are for honoring purposes. The first head is to honor the fallen neighboring leader, which I found refreshing. You don’t see many kingdoms, or countries back in the 15th-16th century or even in the 21st century making a sculpture or any artwork honoring fallen leaders. The attention of detail that is provided in this artwork is amazing. The brick patterns wrapped around the leader’s neck are portrayals of the leader’s nobility. The neck and head are incrusted with coral, which is a specific importance to the Edo people because it is associated with the ancestral realms of the sea. The fact that they would put all...

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