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Warfare in Africa

A Portuguese soldier

Height: 37.500 cm

AOA 1928.1-12.1

A Portuguese soldier

From: Benin, Nigeria
Date: 17th century AD

The Portuguese were the first recorded Europeans to sail around the coast to West Africa. They wanted to get rich by trading goods and conquering territory. Their soldiers were armed with guns which were quite new to this part of Africa.

The Portuguese exchanged large amounts of coral and brass for goods like pepper, cloth, ivory and slaves. This sculpture is by a Benin brass worker and shows a Portuguese soldier holding a musket. It may have decorated the altar or roof of the royal palace of Benin.