Benin Art - Ritual Objects

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Question: Discuss the ways in which the ritual objects produced by and for the royal court of Benin ensure the continuity of spiritual resources that sustain the kingdom. Refer to specific examples to support your answer. Table of Contents. Introduction List of Illustrations Divine Kingship and Ancestor Worship Ritual Objects Decorative Wall Plaques Ancestral Rattle Staffs Altars of the Hand Benin Bronze Head Ancestral Altars Conclusion Bibliography Declaration Introduction. By examining several examples of Benin ritual objects we are going to show what their functions are in the ritual practices of the Edo people. These functions will elucidate the sustained continuity of the divine power of the Oba and the Ancestors. List of Illustrations. Figure 1.- Benin bronze plaque, sixteenth century, National Museum of African Arts, Washington, D.C. (Curnow 1997: 77) Figure 2. - Ukhure rattle staff, 64 in, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Blumenthal Fund, 1974.5 (Mullen Vogel 1978:88-89) 1-Full length picture, 2-Top showing rattle chamber, 3-Top showing Oba’s thumbs and elephant, 4-Bottom front, 5-Bottom back.. Figure 3. - Altar to the Hand, Photograph by Author, Wood Carving, Benin City (Von Sydow 1938:Plate II) Figure 4. - Benin head, Medicine Cult Osun, 27cm, The British Museum, London (Willitt, Torsney & Richie 1994:64) Figure 5. – Altar in the Palace set up for Oba Ovaonramwen, Benin City, 1959, Photo by Frank Willett, (Willitt, Torsney & Richie 1994:64) Divine Kingship and Ancestor Worship. When the first Portuguese discovered the Benin culture they saw that Kingship played a central role in the political, religious and social strata of these people. (Maré 2000:60) The divinity of the Oba’s of the Eweka dynasty sprang from their decent from Oranmyan of Ife. It was believed that these Ogise were “sky kings” who constituted a

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