Head of an 'Oba' from the Edo of Benin
This brass head from Benin, West Africa, dates from the mid-to late 16th century. When each oba (or king) died he had a shrine made in his memory. Brass heads like this were placed on the shrine, alongside ivory tusks, and other metal and wooden objects. All the objects in the oba's palace in Benin were looted and removed by a British naval-expedition in 1898; the king was sent into exile and the British took over. Benin artefacts (collectively called the Benin Bronzes) are now displayed in museums around the world.
Until recently, many commentators on Africa claimed that African societies had no tradition of writing. Read more...