During the British Expedition to Benin City (Edo) in 1897 objects made of brass, ivory, coral and wood were looted by British soldiers from the royal palace, its storerooms and compounds. Some of these objects were sold or exchanged on the coast. However, many were brought to the UK where they were sold through private auction, donated to museums, or retained by soldiers of the expedition. See Collection File: Af1897,1217.1-6.
Commemorative head of an Oba (uhunmwun elao); lost-wax cast in brass. Human head depicted wearing beaded coral regalia in form of openwork cap, strings of beads at sides and back of head, large bead in centre of forehead, and high beaded collar. Head has three raised scarification marks above eyes and irises inlaid with iron. Central circular hole in top of head.
Read & Dalton 1899: "Pedestal in form of a human head, with a circular hole at the top, and cap of beadwork on the front of which are larger beads, while bead pendants hang from the sides. The chin is covered by a high bead collar, as Af1897,1217.1. On each eyebrow are three cicatrices, and the pupils of the eyes are of iron."
Exhibited: 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