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 Museum Explorer

Leaders and rulers
in Africa

The Oba of Benin

Height: 53.000 cm
Width: 33.500 cm
Depth: 35.000 cm

AOA 1944.Af4.1

The Oba of Benin

From: Benin, Nigeria
Date: 19th century AD

The king of Benin (the Oba) is believed to be appointed by the gods to rule the earth, in the same way as the god Olokun rules the waters. It is said that, around 600 years ago, an Oba went to the sea and brought back coral from Olokun. Ever since, coral beads have been a sign of royalty in Benin, and only the Oba and the most powerful people of his kingdom are allowed to wear them. This brass head shows the Oba wearing a huge necklace made of coral.