This unfortunate episode now referred to as The Benin Massacre, was the thunder before the rain; the forerunner of a bigger tragedy to come. The answer was an emphatic no. It is situated 200 miles by road east of Lagos. They were simply taken from their place of origin as the spoils of a punitive expedition. Just to let you know that all British Museum objects have dimensions on their respective pages - scroll back up on this page and look to the right of the image. The oba was a divine king and the spiritual, secular and ritual head of the kingdom.
Some tribes said to have gone extinct have only traces of artifacts to prove their existence. At its peak its influence expanded over a vast territory around the Niger River Delta. They landed near Benin City. Many museums outside Africa, especially those with small collections, argue that their Benin bronzes help make their visitors aware of this African kingdom, as well as of British imperialism, and that the return of the objects would add little of value to the collections already in Nigeria. The British museum has hundreds more. Aesthetically, this will fit perfectly on your office table, or living room shelf. My Nigerian room- mate and I would exchange stories about Africa and Southeast Asia.
Originally founded in 1873, the museum has been closed since January 2017 due to a planned move from its current location outside the city centre to a new location, the Humboldt Forum in the newly rebuilt Berlin Palace. I would like to see someone re-craft that section to give a clearer picture of the interaction with not just the Portugese but any other possible early influences upon Benin metallurgy, such as the neighboring , whose own metallurgical traditions predate those of Benin. Two hundred of the pieces were taken to the , London, while the rest were purchased by other European museums. Some people argue a similar dynamic exists in contemporary use of African cultural symbols, creations and products. Some of the reliefs represent important battles of the sixteenth-century wars of expansion, however, the majority depict noble dignitaries wearing splendid ceremonial dress.
I told her how in 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles signed a treaty with a Malay sultan that led to the founding of Singapore. Even though the returns were not provided for by treaty or convention, the principle of restitution can be seen from that point forward as a developing custom of international law. Legend has it that the Benin Kingdom, then under the reign of Oba Esegie, was faced with the threat of war from the neighbouring tribe, the Ida's. During the British Expedition of 1897 around 900 plaques were found. This article has been rated as C-Class on the. Although the works generally are called the Benin Bronzes, they are made of different materials. There are over 900 brass plaques from Benin in various museums in Europe and America.
A long running debate on their return is still ongoing. Subsumed into the restitution debate is the sense of superiority amongst many Western art institutions centred on their argument that their museums are the optimum repositories for ancient artefacts like these Benin Bronzes. Each is still sculpted by hand, and then cast into bronze by the lost wax process. The Benin Bronzes at the British Museum © British Museum In 1897, British troops marched on Benin City, the capital of the fabled West African kingdom of Benin, ruled over by a powerful Oba. International law is a funny thing: legal rules can arise not just out of treaties, but also out of custom, meaning a generalised state practice.
Most sources speak of a thousand pieces or several thousand pieces. Another important aspect of the works is their exclusivity: property was reserved only for certain social classes, reflecting the strict hierarchical structure of society in the Kingdom of Benin. How to block exploitative practices Understanding the context of borrowing is important for preventing exploitative cultural appropriation. It is wrong to punish a whole society because a few works have been stolen from Nigerian museums by criminals, he adds. Prior to the convention, there was no arbitration body to decide disputes.
Quite by chance 2 degrees west is a line along which quite a considerable number of megalithic sites loosely arrange themselves in a Northerly diection. When borrowing becomes appropriation In some instances, a line is crossed and cultural borrowing can become exploitative. Certain views, like that of Blythe, a nineteenth century African writer and supporter of African rights challenged the common perceptions of the era but they did not change them. My argument is that borrowing may become appropriation when it reinforces historically exploitative relationships or deprives African countries of opportunities to control or benefit from their cultural material. Tortuous theories, soon refuted, were devised to explain why the bronzes were actually Portuguese or Egyptian or Greek in origin. But his prime minister, the Iyase was distrustful of the travelling party.
The ground floor houses the Oba Akenzua Gallery which contains artifacts from Benin City. Present day exhibitions now run the risk of over aestheticizing the Benin sculptures. Slide 3 and 4 offer a couple of typical perspectives. The looted objects are still today politically loaded. During the British Expedition of 1897 around 900 plaques were found. In 2016, students at Cambridge University voted overwhelmingly to return Okukor, a bronze cockerel taken during the punitive expedition and placed at the entrance to one of its dining halls.
Most depict the king or warrior chiefs. The metal pieces were made using and are considered among the best sculptures made using this technique. These helmets also help situate the attendants as those chosen to serve the inner court of the Oba; they were leopard hunters. Ornate plaques depicting scenes of Benin court life lined the palace pillars and walls. This does not mean permanent restitution, which can be left for a later date, provided the temporary return proves secure, fruitful and sustainable.
This camp was renamed Lagos by Portuguese traders in the 17th century. His reaction to the debate on the bronzes is one of indignation, not much different to his stance in a similar debate last summer. There has been much debate in the past over what to do with the art works and in more recent times as to who and where the art belongs and whether or not the concerned parties who do hold and own the art works are the right people and places to do so. The sine qua non of a customary rule—a generalised state practice that forsook looting—was simply non-existent when it came to Africa, at least not until the 20th century. On the whole, over half the works taken by the French were recovered, including famous pieces like the Laocoön, which went back to the Vatican, the Medici Venus, which went back to Florence and a collection of ten Cranachs, which went back to Prussia. Only the Oba is entitled to decorate his shrine with bronze castings.