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Pendant Mask: Iyoba

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1978.412.323

This ivory pendant mask is one of a pair of nearly identical works; its counterpart is in the British Museum in London … The pendant mask is believed to have been produced in the early sixteenth century for the King or "Oba" Esigie, the king of Benin, to honor his mother, Idia. The Oba may have worn it at rites commemorating his mother, although today such pendants are worn at annual ceremonies of spiritual renewal and purification. — Collection Database

MMA Web Resources

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Director's Choice

MMA Collection Database

Timeline of Art History: Bortolot, Alexander Ives. "Exchange of Art and Ideas: The Benin, Owo, and Ijebu Kingdoms". New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2003)

Selected Web Resources Elsewhere

Published Resources

Links with shelf numbers refer to WATSONLINE, the online library catalog of the Museum. Photocopies of each source reference are available in the Goldwater Library. Certain electronic resources are accessible within the museum or with an approved remote connection.

  • Ben Amos, Paula. The Art of Benin. London, Thames & Hudson, 1995. [O5KB B45 1995] (earlier edition, 1980)
  • Bradbury, R. E. Benin Studies. London, Oxford University Press, 1973. [O5KB B79]
    • Particularly chapter 1, "The Kingdom of Benin: the historical and territorial background."
  • Ezra, Kate. African Ivories. New York, 1984: pp. 14-21. [O2 N545a REF]
    • The selection describes the use of ivory, its value and function in Africa and particularly in Benin.
  • Ezra, Kate. Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection. New York, 1992. [O2 N545r]
    • Particularly "Pectorals, Hip Ornaments, and Waist Pendants" (pp. 153-173).
  • Fagg, William B. Divine Kingship in Africa. 2nd ed. London, British Museum Publications, 1978. [O3 F15di]
    • Pp. 28-32 (selection describing "The king's ivory treasure," focusing on the Oba of Benin)
  • Fagg, William B. "The Seligman Ivory Mask from Benin." Man, vol. 57, article 143, Aug. 1957, pp. 112-113 (including two illustrations). [A M226 v.57 or Online]
    • Cites provenance of British Museum pendant mask and draws comparisons. Robert Goldwater wrote a letter in reply (Man, vol. 58, article 177, p. 132).
  • Mark, Peter. "Towards a reassessment of the dating and the geographical origins of the Luso-African ivories, fifteenth to seventeenth centuries." History in Africa Vol. 34 (2007): 189-211. [A H675 v.34]
  • Plankenstein, Barbara (ed.). Benin Kings and Rituals: Court arts from Nigeria. Gent, Snoeck, 2007. [O5KB B46]
  • Ross, Doran (ed.). Elephant:The Animal and Its Ivory in African Culture. Los Angeles, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1992. [O3I E39 REF]
    • Particularly "The Elephant and Its Ivory in Benin", by Barbara Winston Blackmun.
  • Schonfeld, W. L. "Part Human, Part Divine," Connoisseur, March 1982, pp. 92-93. [Watson 100.52 C56] (Also available in the Goldwater Library's Vertical Files)

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