Related pages: The Kingdom of Benin | The Raid on Benin, 1897
Previous Benin Plaque research – The Kingdom of Benin
Since approximately 1300 C.E., an oba, or king, and his court have governed a kingdom of Edo-speaking peoples from Benin City, located in what is today Nigeria. Within the kingdom, specialized artists belonged to guilds with hereditary membership and worked solely for the oba. Even today, the current oba, Ewuare II N’Odigigan, employs royal artists to produce the courtly arts of bronze casting and ivory carvingc
According to court historians and the accounts of early 17th-century Dutch travelers, the oba (king) of Benin once covered the posts of his palace courtyard with hundreds of copper alloy plaques, such as those on view..
Plaques are individually molded and cast with molten copper-based metal. While some plaques have narrative scenes, such as battles and hunts, most—like these examples—have one, two, or more male figures in royal attire carrying court regalia, such as swords, bows, and gongs. Close inspection of the plaques reveals a high level of technical expertise and a wealth of historical detail that provides a glimpse into Benin court life centuries ago.