- Museum number
Aquamanile; lost-wax cast in brass. In form of standing ram. Hollow casting with small opening on top of head for pouring; lid is missing. Ram depicted with upright ears, curving horns, striated fur on chest and split hooves; nostrils piereced. Twisted rope depicted between horns.
- Production date
- 16thC-17thC (?)
Height: 34 centimetres
Weight: 5.30 kilograms
Width: 12.50 centimetres
Depth: 44 centimetres
- Curator's comments
This ram aquamanile and another similar were looted from Benin City in 1897 by Captain Herbert Walker. They were sold as a pair (lot 79) at a Mssrs Foster auction on 16 July 1931 by the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum. This aquamanile was then donated to the Museum by the WHMM in 1954. The second aquamanile was subsequently sold through Sotheby's (7 December 1953) to the Nigerian government. It is now in the collections of the National Museum Lagos (accession number 53.22.2).
The two aquamanile were possibly made as a pair; alternatively the Lagos aquamanile may have been made to replace the damaged British Museum ram.
Rams are regarded as symbols of masculinity in Benin and were sacrificial animals at the annual Ague ceremony.
Ram aquamanile were used by the Oba to wash his hands during the closing rites of the Ague ceremony in the royal palace in Benin City (Curnow, 1997).
- On display (G25/dc7)
- Exhibition history
1970-1973, London, Museum of Mankind, Divine Kingship in Africa
1991 Feb-Apr, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Man and Metal in Ancient Nigeria
1993-1997, London, Museum of Mankind, Great Benin: a West African Kingdom
- Good. Lid at top of head missing; damage at left proper side of body.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased by Mr Stow on behalf of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum at a Mssrs. Foster (Edward Foster & Sons) auction on 16 July 1931, lot 79.
An annotated copy of the auction catalogue at the Museum identifies the vendor of lots 72-109 as Herbert Sutherland Walker.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: A170419 (WHMM accession number)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: R4062/1936 (WHMM new registration number)