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Passport to the Past

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Head Fragment

4 1/4 x 3 3/16 x 2 5/16 in. (10.8 x 8.1 x 5.9 cm)

Unknown, Edo (Bini)
Nigerian

Object Type: Ceramics
Medium and Support: Clay, pigment
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1965.25
Location: Currently on view
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This small head fragment from the Benin culture in Nigeria is the oldest African object in the Memorial Art Gallery’s collection. It was a part of the great royal court art of Benin and likely represents one of the deceased kings (Oba) or attendants. The Benin believed the Oba was both a deity and a human ruler. The Benin kingdom was known for its very fine brass casting and this small clay head may have served as a casting form for a shrine figure.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

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