A handsome Benin bronze head sitting 9 inches tall and weighing 4 pounds. This bronze head has a unique lifelike appearance making it an excellent addition to any collection.
Unlike other cultures, the people of the Benin Kingdom did not create tribal art, it was ordered to be made by the Oba. Using the lost-wax casting method, beautiful bronze heads and plaques were littered throughout the palace as well as sculpted tusks and terracotta. Some pieces, like bronze leopards, guarded the palace doors while others, like bronze heads were placed on altars to honor ancestors where sacrifices were often made.
In 1897, an army of British soldiers raided Benin City in retaliation of a previous battle in which all but 2 men had perished. They burned homes, religious buildings and palaces. The city’s walls, estimated to be four times longer in total than the Great Wall of China, was left in ruins. Once the British secured the city, they began looting. Over 2500 religious artifacts and pieces of art, including bronze heads and sculptures, were sent to England. They began auctioning off the bronze heads and other artwork to cover the war expenses, but some were spread throughout European museums.
Most, if not all, Benin bronze heads and sculptures are held in museums. When purchasing bronze heads and sculptures on the market today, they are most likely replicas but are usually created using the same traditional lost wax casting method.