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Tribal art - African bronze:

We find in African art a multitude of bronze objects made in the purest animist tradition by the blacksmiths of the village. Nigeria thanks to the kingdoms Benin and Ifé was a big producer of bronze objects. The statues, heads, usual objects in bronze are of a superb invoice thanks to the use of the process of the lost wax which consists in the creation of a massive model in clay. It is covered with a layer of wax by adding metal rods. Then we cover the whole with refractory clay leaving a hole in the upper part. When it is dry, it is heated which melts the wax which is inside, then the bronze is poured. Finally there is only to break the inner clay to recover the bronze object.


Dogon couple figures in bronze
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Tribal art > African bronze > Dogon figure

These protective bronze figures probably evoke the primordial couple or mythical twins, associated with the Nommos, at the origin of Dogon creation. Small lineage objects with protective purposes or to promote fertility. Light ochre brown patina.br /> Dogon blacksmiths form an endogamous caste among the Dogon called irim. Today they produce weapons, tools, and also work with wood. "Masters of fire" associated in Dogon cosmogony with the primordial beings "Nommo" created by the god Ama, they are also supposed to cure burns. Small metal objects, made using the lost wax technique, were widespread in the region of the interior delta of the Niger, copper reaching it thanks to the trans-Saharan trade. Excavations on the Bandiagara plateau have uncovered the remains of iron and ...

Kongo Nkandi Kiditu Crucifix
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Tribal art > African bronze > Kongo Crucifix

Among Kongo chiefs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the crucifix stood as a symbol of power and authority among chieftaincy regalia. A ceremony at the investiture of the chief required that the future ruler receive from the hands of a dignitary, in a codified ritual, a nkangi kiditu . This badge of power, inspired by ancient Christian crucifixes imported by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, could also have a therapeutic function, and, in addition to various uses, was brandished at funeral ceremonies during which the object was subjected to libations of oil or palm wine.
The cross would not be a motif specific to the Christian world, as the Kongo considered the four branches to ...

Kongo Nkangi Kiditu crucifix
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Tribal art > Usual african items > Kongo crucifix

Among Kongo chiefs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the crucifix stood as a symbol of power and authority among chieftaincy regalia. A ceremony at the investiture of the chief required that the future ruler receive from the hands of a dignitary, in a codified ritual, a nkangi kiditu . This badge of power, inspired by ancient Christian crucifixes imported by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, could also have a therapeutic function, and, in addition to various uses, was brandished at funeral ceremonies during which the object was subjected to libations of oil or palm wine.
The cross would not be a motif specific to the Christian world, as the Kongo considered the four branches to ...

Ifé Yoruba commemorative head in bronze
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Tribal art > African bronze > Ifé bronze

Figurative bronze depicting the Oni, king of Ife the cradle city of the Yoruba, wearing a highly detailed crown. Nowadays the king of Ifé wears a similar badge of office, formed by a vertical braided segment ending in a pointed bulge. Such a head was attached to the top of a dressed wooden effigy to represent the deceased king at the funeral and then buried after the ceremony in a shrine near the palace. Grainy texture, greenish-black patina encrusted with ochre. The city of Ifé in Nigeria was in the 15th century the center of a powerful forest state west of the Niger Delta. The work of bronze was a prerogative of the king "oni", according to the technique of lost wax. These prestigious objects embodying the rulers were placed on the royal altars for ceremonial use. It would be an ...

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Crucufix Congo Nkangi Kiditu
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Tribal art > Usual african items > Crucufix Congo

Among the Kongo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the crucifix was a symbol of power legitimising its authority among the chief regalia. A ceremony at the inauguration of the chief required the future leader to receive from a dignitary, in a codified ritual, a nkangi kiditu . This insignia of power, inspired by ancient Christian crucifixes imported by the Portuguese in the 16th century, could also have a therapeutic function, and, in addition to various uses, be brandished during funeral ceremonies during which the object was subjected to libations of oil or palm wine. Height on a base: 29 cm.
The cross would not be a specific motive for the Christian world, the Kongo considering that the four branches refer to the cycle of human existence. The Kongo also used an initiation ...

Pair of heads Benin Uhumnwun elao
Tribal art > African bronze > Benin Heads

This refined late sculpture, based on a work that was made on the queen's death, depicts a queen mother of Benin named the Iyoba, whose neck is surrounded by multiple necklaces of coral pearls. Her high curved hairstyle was also made up of a beaded silla falling on either side of the face.
Patine dark, moist, golden reflections. After the birth of the future king, the queen was power and could no longer engender. But at the end of the 15th century the Oba Esigie refused to comply with this practice and wanted to attribute the city of Uselu to his mother. She also received a palace and many privileges. In recognition she raised an army to fight the Northern Igala. The Oba had a head cast in his effigy, among many works cast with lost wax, to place them on his altar after his death. ...


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Altar Opà Asen
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Tribal art > African bronze > Altar Asen

It was in a room in the house reserved for this purpose that the large fon families of Benin (formerly Dahomey) kept portable altars made from pieces of metal. Known as Asen, these sticks were created for each ancestor, serving as intermediaries between the worlds of the living and the world of the dead. Prayers and offerings were performed in a ceremony called \


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Ceremonial Pot Benin Edo
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Tribal art > African bronze > Benin Cup

The African art of Benin, figurative court art.
Visual effect of great effectiveness for this composition combining horse riders and warriors armed or equipped with the ceremonial sword Eben, against a finely incised background of leaf motifs symbolizing the universe of the god Olokun.Patine golden brown, light green-of-grey footprints.
The tradition of bronze court objects in the Benin Kingdom dates back to the 14th century. The many brass heads and statues created by the artists of Benin were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, more often than not, placed on altars consecrated by each new Oba or king. These rectangular altars were surmounted by heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba ...


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Crucifix Kongo Nkangi kiditu
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Tribal art > Usual african items > Crucifix Kongo

Among the Kongo at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the crucifix was a symbol of power among the regalia chieffaux. A ceremony at the chief's inauguration required the future leader to recovel at the hands of a dignitary, during a codified ritual, a nkangi kiditu . This badge of power, inspired by ancient Christian crucifixes imported by the Portuguese in the 16th century, could also have a therapeutic function, and, in addition to various uses, be brandished during funeral ceremonies during which the object was subjected to libations of oil or palm wine. The cross would not be a specific motif to the Christian world, the Kongo considering that the four branches refer to the cycle of human existence. The Kongo also used an initiation ceremony, the kimpasi , in which the ...

Benin bronze royal plaque
Tribal art > African bronze > Benin Plate

This bronze plaque will be accompanied by its certificate of analysis from the German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. According to scientific expertise, the piece is estimated at the beginning of the 19th century. The plate is thick, locally pierced.

Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of kings, the Oba , was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. In African tribal art, glorifying war scenes were reproduced on narrative plates, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, hairs and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of smelters according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax. During the 16th ...


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Rider Sao Sokoto Putchu Guinadji
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Tribal art > African bronze > Rider Sao

In African art, Sao Sokoto-inspired works are mostly imprinted with the equestrian world. Within the ethnic group, small copies of riders usually in bronze are melted and worn like talismans, patinated and lustrous by friction. They are seen above all as a remedy to fight possession by evil spirits. The horse represents the spirit of the person who is possessed, while the genius who possesses it is symbolized by the rider.

More than an ethnic group, the Sao are a civilization that has disappeared. They were found between the 12th and 14th centuries in a geographical area stretching along the borders between Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria. This bronze, inspired by the finest Sao achievements, has a copper patina. The warriors depicted on their mounts have their heads wrapped in a ...

Portuguese Colon Benin
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Tribal art > African bronze > Portuguese Colon Benin

The mastery of bronze in African art.

This exceptional and ancient piece depicts a Portuguese settler.
This figure carrying in the right hand what appears to be a firecracker and in the left hand a shackle (open bronze ring) testifies to the importance of the Portuguese for the Oba, king of the ethnic group, and the dominant class of the Kingdom Benin in the 16th century century.
Indeed, the tremendous increase in imports of metal in the form of shackles, used as a bargaining chip, provided bronze craftsmen with huge quantities of raw material for their works and contributed greatly to the economic boom. Benin.
The Portuguese is therefore presented here as a provider of wealth.
In the 16th century, they played a major role at the oba court: they ...


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