These bronze heads and other objects were originally found on religious shrines within the royal Palace at Benin.
They represent the sacred honour bestowed upon both the current Oba and his dead ancestors.
Benin was sacked by the British in 1897. The subsequent looting of these ritual objects exposed the west to their intricate nature, and the skills required to make them.
They were admired for their beauty. Their original function was largely forgotten or downgraded as being part of a degenerate religion.
This display aims to explore the significance of these bronze objects in the original context of religious rituals. It highlights the skill of construction but also their deep religious symbolism.
The use of bronze objects in religious rituals continues today in Benin City, which is now part of modern Nigeria.
Religion in contemporary Benin developed and adapted after the British raid and colonial rule. But the bronzes are still cast today and used in religious rituals.