plaque (art)

Cast of a Benin bronze plaque, made using the 'lost wax' process. The plaque depicts three figures, with snakes beneath the torso of the central figure. There are also snakes decorating the border.

The cast was made for the Horniman Museum in 1998 by John Ihama of Benin City, Nigeria.

How is it used? Brass plaques were used in Ancient Benin to make a permanent record of the important people and events in the history of the Kingdom. They were displayed on the walls of the palace of the King (or Oba). They were created by master craftsmen appointed by the King. Who by and why them? The people of Ancient Benin are well known for their brass/bronze casting techniques and they used these skills to make artefacts that recorded important people and events in their history. In Edo, the language of Ancient Benin, 'to remember' (sa-e-y-ama) literally means 'to cast a motif in bronze'. The Edo language was only spoken and not written so metal casting was an important way of recording their history. The plaques show past kings, merchants, warriors, chiefs and famous priests. They recorded events, stories, trade arrangements, triumphs and victories.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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