- Museum number
Arm-rest; made of sheet brass.
- Production date
- 16thC - 19thC
Height: 91.50 centimetres
Weight: 8.20 kilograms
Width: 34 centimetres
Depth: 34 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Royal armrest: consists of a cylinder of sheet brass with sheet brass discs attached at top and bottom, the whole decorated with bands of repossé work representing human faces, animal forms and formal patterns.
Bought, Foster. 20/10/32. 35/=.
This is an example of the arm rest that the king uses on those ritual occasions where he is seated on the pouf-like throne during annual refresher ceremonies where the traditional throne is required. The arm rest used today is made of wood and dried leather covered with scarlet red cloth (ododo).
This arm rest is made of beaten brass (probably over a sturdy frame). The low relief designs are hammered out from the back by the repousse technique. Benin repousse objects including cylindrical bracelets and beaten costume ornaments are made by the brass casters and usually depict the same motifs found on cast art, but are less elegant and more amateurish than the cast bracelets. Except for the rope of the world iconography near the pedestal representing long life and the equal arm cross with the nearly the same meaning, the designs that appear here are either idiosyncratic or, more likely, represent the abstract powdered chalk designs made on performance spaces for cult ceremonies such as Olokun. One may assume that the designs on the arm rest allude to the king’s sacredness and majesty.
It is not known when such types of armrests were introduced. This example might have been produced in the late 19th century and is reproduced on a photograph from 1897 showing assembled artworks in the ruins of the royal palace in Benin, owned by the National Army Museum in London.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1970-1973, London, Museum of Mankind, Divine Kingship in Africa
2007 May-Sept, Vienna, Museum für Völkerkunde, Benin. Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria
2007-2008 Oct-Jan, Paris, Musée du quai Branly, Benin. Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria
2008 Feb-May, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, Benin. Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number