Benin Plaques

Topics: Royal family, Prince, Benin Empire Pages: 3 (1161 words) Published: May 26, 2013
Tristan Weeks

Art History

Ms. Cherashore


Benin Plaques

Art around the world serves all different purposes, not all of these seem traditional to the people of western civilization. For example the art of many african tribes and cultures is very different from the classic styles of the european tradition. Art from these areas usually serves a larger purpose to the people. Either representing religious figures or the leaders of the tribe. The subjects of these works of art are often crafted in an idealized manner as to show their greatness. One great representation of African art is the plaques of the city state Benin. In south east africa this city state was well known for its royal art as well as its unique way of creating metal works. One specific work of art from the region is the Plaque of the Warrior Chief Flanked by Warriors and Attendants, which was a version of political propaganda. Made using the process of wax casting, which involves creating molds and pouring extremely hot melted metal into the moulds. This particular plaque told the story of a divine and powerful king, shown with many symbols that conveyed this message to the people.

Located in western Africa, centralized in modern day Nigeria, existed the Benin Empire. A warlike state that legend says was able to summon two hundred thousand troops in a matter of days. A civilization like this requires an extremely powerful leader, one who can take all of the people in a large area and unite them under one banner. The ruling family the Ogisos were perfect for the job. Ruling with an iron fist and expanding the empire, the rulers were beloved by the people. Much of the history of empire was recorded either through oral tradition or in the civilizations artwork. Brass was the medium of choice for the kingship, infact the metal was prohibited to anyone but the King himself. As he controlled the process of brass casting and who was allowed to use the medium. Anyone caught...
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