African and Tribal Art

Object 1

Benin Head of Enekidi
Wooden & copper sculpture
H 74 cm W 36 cm
Beginning of 16th Century
Provenance on requirement

A Highly Important Benin Head of Enekidi,
Nigeria, circa 1525-1550

Carved wooden commemorative trophy head covered partially with copper sheet. The hollowed head rising from a cylindrical neck encircled by 11 rows of pod shaped beads leaving the mouth exposed, the face with small flaring nose, delicately modeled lips and wide oval eyes with round pupils, six raised scarification lines above the eyes and two larger rectangular lines above the inner corner of each eye (ikao), framed by flat diminutive ears and wearing a headdress with additional 3 rows of pod shaped beads and one row of coral beads on top, one braid behind the left and one braid behind the right ear, each terminating in a single coral bead, exceptionally fine, the copper surface varied gold brown patina. In perfect condition.

History:
According to Chief Ohanbamu Ineh this is the form of the head of Enekidi of Okbelaka, a legendary figure said to have lived during the age of the warrior king Oba Ozolua, beginning of 16th century, who was killed after an unsuccessful rebellion.

It was a time of warfare and conquest, expansion, consolidation and development of the kingdom of Benin under the kings Ewuare, Ozolua, Esigie, Orhogbua and Ehengbuda. The kingdom of Benin extended in the east to the Niger River, in the west to Lagos, in the north-east to Ekiti and Owo and north-west included the Ishan area.

Such heads were exposed only on the shrines of very high-ranking chiefs and it allude to their power over life and death.

Height: 28 1/2 in. 72.5 cm

 

 

Object 2

 

A Magnificent and Highly Important Benin Head of an Oba,
Nigeria, circa 1490-1570
A Magnificent and Highly Important Benin Head of an Oba,
Nigeria, circa 1490-1570

Cast, the hollowed form rising from a cylindrical neck encircled by 22 rows of coral beads, the face with delicately modeled lips, small flaring nose and wide oval eyes inset with iron for the pupils, three raised scarification lines above the eyes and a fourth larger rectangular line inset in iron above the inner corner of each eye (ikao), framed by flat diminutive ears and wearing an elaborate headdress with coral beads in a crisscross pattern with additional groups of five pod shaped beads attached to the surface, and eleven strands of beads at each side, two braids behind the left and one braid behind the right ear, each terminating in a single coral bead; in white pigment on reverse of head; mounted on rotating Inagaki base; exceptionally fine, varied gold brown patina with traces of red pigment.

A similar one was sold on 17th may 2007 at Sotheby’s, New York (lot 121) on the AFRICAN, OCEANIC AND PRE-COLUMBIAN ART SALE http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.121.html/2007/african-oceanic-and-pre-columbian-art-n08320

Height: 24.8 cm Wide: 19 cm


Provenance:
On Requirement

Certificate:
Thermoluminiscence Report No.: 02B010419 by Laboratory Ralf Kotalla, D-72401 Heigerloch, Germany

Literature:
Erwin O. Christensen, A Guide to Art Museums in the United States, New York, 1968, pp. 98-99, pl. 220
Philip J.C. Dark, 'Benin Bronze Heads: Styles and Chronology,' in Daniel F. McCall and Edna G. Bay (eds.), African Images, Essays in African Iconology, New York and London, 1975, p. 64 (unillustrated, referred to as 'X0/13')
Philip J.C. Dark, An Illustrated Catalogue of Benin Art, Boston, 1982, pls. 2.1.103 and 2.4.6 (unillustrated, referred to as 'X0/13')
Steven A. Nash, with Katy Kline, Charlotta Kotik and Emese Wood, Albright-Knox Art Gallery: Painting and Sculpture from Antiquity to 1942, Buffalo, 1979, p. 115
Marie-Thérèse Brincard (ed.), The Power of Bronze: Royal Sculpture from the Kingdom of Benin, New York, 2004, p. 17, no. 4 (mistakenly listed as previously owned by Albert H. Tracy)