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X65.9087 Belt mask


Artist: Unknown

Culture: Edo peoples

Place of Origin: Kingdom of Benin, present-day Nigeria

Date/Era: 18th century

Dimensions: H: 19.0 cm, W: 11.7 cm, D: 5.7 cm (H: 7.4 in, W: 4.6 in, D: 2.2 in)

Medium/Materials: Copper alloy

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.

Accession Number: X65.9087


  • 1933 (October 31): Sold at Sotheby’s & Co auction [lot 73], listed as part of “A. R. Wright collection”to Sir Henry Wellcome Collection
  • 1965 Gift of Wellcome Trust to Fowler Museum (then Museum and Laboratories of Ethnic Arts and Technology)

Over the centuries artists produced many different kinds of brass objects for the Edo-speaking royalty of the Kingdom of Benin in what is now southern Nigeria. The iconography of this mask, which was worn as a hip ornament over a ruler’s skirt, enhanced the status and legitimized the authority of oba, or kings, and other members of Benin royalty. Frogs, for example, were associated with the power of Osun, the deity of the rivers, who was capable of traversing and occupying different habitats. The frogs on this mask refers to the ability of royalty to travel between the human and spirit worlds.

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.

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