Brass head for use in the worship of Osun

Edo peoples, 18th century AD
From Benin, Nigeria

Osun is one of a number of deities worshipped in Benin. His power lies in plants of the forests. Magical specialists, or ebo, use herbs and plants to create magical or medicinal potions.

In the eighteenth century, the Obas (kings) of Benin developed a new form of representing their magical and mystical powers through brass heads such as these. This example has snakes issuing from the eyes and nostrils, and a crown of birds, both creatures being closely associated with Osun. Birds were often sited on the top of palaces and have prophetic and protective powers. The stone axes on the forehead are associated with lightning and its destructive powers.

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More information


P. Girshick Ben-Amos, The art of Benin (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


Height: 27.000 cm
Width: 14.000 cm
Depth: 17.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1948.Af9.1



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