tma Assignment 05 Benin Cross Cultural Encounters

Topics: 16th century, Benin, Spain Pages: 4 (1678 words) Published: July 30, 2015
From Reading 1.1 and Looking Closely at Plate 3.1.9, what do these sources tell us about fifteenth – and sixteenth- century cross-cultural encounters? This assignment will discuss the nature of a cross-cultural encounter in the 15th and 16th centuries between the Portuguese traders and the people of Benin, leading to Portuguese figures depicted in Benin art and furthermore our understanding of cross-cultural encounters in general The plaque under consideration (plate 3.9.1) is of three forward facing warriors, dressed in only a lower robe, wearing hats sporting flaps at either side, looking intently at the viewer. They are carrying either bronze manillas or bracelets conveying the Portuguese trading with them or even the importance of the Benin warrior. They are placed on a floral motif background possibly a symbol of the Oba’s connection with water and therefore a reminder of his power and rule. The largest of the men, whom stands in the middle, holds a staff in his left hand, ornately decorated at the top and could be depicted at a different scale to show leadership of the three or someone of higher importance amongst them. He is shown to be dressed in slightly more decorative garments. There are holes on the right and top sides that we also know were used to attach the plaque to pillars. Looking at this plaque we can get a sense of the powerful warrior and the importance of the Portuguese trade in fifteenth and sixteenth century Benin. We know first-handily the quality of Benin art was comparable to that produced around Europe at the same time, but unlike Europe, was tightly controlled. These pieces (plaques) were commissioned by the Oba and displayed at his approval. ‘Metal casters were grouped together in guilds within the royal compound of Benin City.’ – (Brown 2008 AA100 Cultural Encounters) We also need to consider the two categories of art work produced. Firstly are the objects that were meant to be traded; commodities such as ivory spoons and salt...

Bibliography: Brown: Open University (2008) AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters
Hodgkin: Pereira, Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis, c. 1595-8 (1975) - Reading 1.1 AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters pg. 33 (2008)
H.L. Gallwey: Report on visit to Ubini (Benin) Public record office (1892) – Reading 1.4 AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters pg. 34-35 (2008)
R.H. Bacon: Benin, City of Blood (1987) – Reading 1.6 AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters pg. 38-39 (2008)
AA100 The Arts Past and Present Plates for Books 3 and 4, Illustration Book: Plate 3.1.9 (2008)
Mackie: 2008 AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters pg. 26 (2008)
Layiwola: AA100 The Arts Past and Present - book 3 Cultural Encounters pg. 26 (2007)
Stephanie Claire Collins
Word Count – 1448
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