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Culture: Edo peoples
Place of Origin: Kingdom of Benin, present-day Nigeria
Date/Era: Circa 1550-1650 C.E.
Dimensions: H: 16.8 cm, W: 15.1 cm, D: 5.0 cm (H: 6.6 in, W: 5.9 in, D: 1.9 in)
Medium/Materials: Copper alloy
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.
Accession Number: X65.9085
*CMG: Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
*PMO: Primary Medical Officer
The central, and most important, figure on this plaque pendant wears a skirt with a design referred to as “robe of the world,” which often denoted status in the Benin kingdom. The coral-beaded shirts of the figures suggest their political and ritual power and the wealth of the oba, or king. The coral also recalls the association of the king with Olukun, a deity of the waters, wealth, and fertility. Like the mudfish, the oba has the ability to travel between the human and spirit worlds. The pendant was worn on the hip by Edo chiefs or as a chest pendant by vassals of the oba.
Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.
See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.