Benin Art And Architecture (5)

Benin Art And Architecture

« #128 on: March 03, 2011, 08:11 PM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 03, 2011, 03:26 AM
The box hat is interesting. It looks powerful. Did Edo have any type of writing they communicated with (like to generals and the queen mother and all, giving them signs or a word)?


Edo did have types of written communications. One of them is called AROKO.
It still used today mainly among the priestly groups. It is based on BINARY elements.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #129 on: March 04, 2011, 08:45 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 03, 2011, 03:26 AM
The box hat is interesting. It looks powerful. Did Edo have any type of writing they communicated with (like to generals and the queen mother and all, giving them signs or a word)?

Edos didn't have writing to the best of my knowledge.

However, they certainly did have means of sending messages:


"Objects and rituals, rank jewels and ornaments
Numerous objects were used during events held at court. During
audiences and ceremonies, gifts were presented in finely-crafted
recipients. The traditional cola nuts were offered in richly sculpted
ivory and wooden recipients. The court would send its
messages in leather or brass boxes called ekpokin, inside which
were placed objects with a symbolic meaning.

Costumes, ornaments and jewels were attributes which helped
to distinguish each of the many court dignitaries. A number of
these costumes, including very fine and often little-known items,
notably in ivory, bronze, brass, agate and coral, can be found in
European museum collections."

http://www.quaibranly.fr/uploads/media/DP_BENIN_21082007_-_ENGLISH_corrige.pdf


Here's an image showing an example of one of these individuals:



"Cast brass plaque of three men. The figure in the
middle is carrying a leather or bark box called an
ekpokin used for ceremonial presentations. The
warriors on either side of him are wearing collars
of leopards’ teeth around their necks. Leopards’
teeth were believed to give the warriors spiritual
protection in battle. Benin, 1991.13.8"

http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/benin.html
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #130 on: March 04, 2011, 08:48 AM »

Quote from: amazonia on March 03, 2011, 08:11 PM

Edo did have types of written communications. One of them is called AROKO.
It still used today mainly among the priestly groups. It is based on BINARY elements.


Please provide more information on this. This is the first I'm hearing about this.


The only written symbols of the Edo that I'm familiar with are the Olokun symbols, which are strictly religious and not for daily communication.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #131 on: March 04, 2011, 08:51 AM »



Ada, ceremonial sword, sheathed in coral beadwork. Aside from
a sword like this one, the Oba would also have owned ceremonial
garments – a headdress, fly whisk, and jewellery, all of coral
beadwork. Benin





Pendant mask representing a leopard’s
head, Benin,
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #132 on: March 04, 2011, 07:13 PM »

Quote from: amazonia on March 03, 2011, 08:11 PM

Edo did have types of written communications. One of them is called AROKO.
It still used today mainly among the priestly groups. It is based on BINARY elements.

Are Aroko (from the Yoruba) objects that represent meaning?

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 04, 2011, 08:48 AM

Please provide more information on this. This is the first I'm hearing about this.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1771712.pdf

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 04, 2011, 08:48 AM
The only written symbols of the Edo that I'm familiar with are the Olokun symbols, which are strictly religious and not for daily communication.

That is how Chinese writing started.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #133 on: March 05, 2011, 01:19 AM »

Thanks for the link. The Yoruba Aroko does not seem to be written communication though, so unless amazonia can provide evidence of this binary communication system, I'll have to conclude that the Edo did not have real writing.


As for the Chinese, it's true that oracles are how their writing started. It's unfortunate that Benin did not make the leap to real writing. It would have been an enormous transformation. I think they were just averse to writing. Certain palace officials and the king of Benin had knowledge of Portuguese at various times through Benin's history and Oba Esigie even sent an ambassador (an Olokun priest) to Portugal. Oba Esigie (a Christian) also built three churches, so there must have been at least one Bible somewhere in Benin at some point. Yet Benin never even adopted the Latin script, not to talk of developing their own writing.

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #134 on: March 05, 2011, 02:28 AM »



Prominent Figure with Kola Nut Box
Benin, Nigeria
18th/19th century
Bronze
34 cm

Various features mark this dignitary as belonging to Benin's court society: he wears the coral feathered headdress and coral collar of high-ranking figures, as well as a wrap-around skirt and additional coral jewellery. In his hands, he carries a box containing precious kola nuts, gifts so valuable that special boxes were made specifically to hold them. These highly-valued nuts were brought to altars as signs of devotement.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #135 on: March 05, 2011, 02:31 AM »



Warrior
Benin, Nigeria
about 1880
32 cm


A plaque in the Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig features a very similar figure emerging victorious from a war scene. The two warriors wear the same crocodile-skin headdress and chin-beard, both uncommon f or objects from Benin. In the Viennese Catalogue, Christine Seige suggests that both warriors represent Oba Esigie (1504-1550), but this thesis does not seem very logical given that no other depiction of Esigie features a beard or this unusual headdress.


Cp.:
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 457.


amazonia (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #136 on: March 05, 2011, 02:48 AM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 04, 2011, 08:48 AM

Please provide more information on this. This is the first I'm hearing about this.


The only written symbols of the Edo that I'm familiar with are the Olokun symbols, which are strictly religious and not for daily communication.

Yes, is the same use by native religions practitioners. Is not limited to Olokun.
Though, olokun, ogun, orunmila and other deities's symbols are different, but the basic
forms are series of oooo and xxxx constituting forms of dynamism within creation.
Knowledgeable practitioners also use the form to record their yam harvest pen, and other stocks.
I am not proficient in it. I do know is written and read in columns.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #137 on: March 07, 2011, 09:53 PM »



The caption reads:

"Sketch of the burying place of a king of Benin. The explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who visited the Benin Kingdom in 1823, appears to have written the legend to this sketch, but, as Fagg (1977) points out, there is doubt as to whether he actually did the drawing. The depiction of 'one of 25 or 30 of the Tombs of the Benin Kings' accords with the anonymous description in the Royal Gold Coast Gazette. From the sketch it is possible to identify several types of objects which until now had not been associated with ancestral altars."

From The Art of Benin by Paula Ben-Amos
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #138 on: March 07, 2011, 10:11 PM »

Quote from: amazonia on March 05, 2011, 02:48 AM
Yes, is the same use by native religions practitioners. Is not limited to Olokun.
Though, olokun, ogun, orunmila and other deities's symbols are different, but the basic
forms are series of oooo and xxxx constituting forms of dynamism within creation.
Knowledgeable practitioners also use the form to record their yam harvest pen, and other stocks.
I am not proficient in it. I do know is written and read in columns.

Amazonia, these are the kind of Olokun symbols I'm familiar with:





The first picture is from the book The Art of Benin by Paula Ben-Amos

The second picture is from the article "The Initiation of a Priestess: Performance and Imagery in Olokun Ritual" by Joseph Nevadomsky and Norma Rosen


So you're definitely right about it being written in columns/rows, but I still don't think the Olokun symbols constitute a written system for daily communication like ezeagu was asking about.

If you can find an image of this aroko writing, then please share it somehow. Or at least describe this binary writing.

MaziUche0 (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #139 on: March 07, 2011, 10:56 PM »

The only form of writing system that was in Nigeria, besides Arabic is the Nsibidi that was practiced by MY people.  Cool
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #140 on: March 07, 2011, 11:06 PM »

Quote from: MaziUche0 on March 07, 2011, 10:56 PM
The only form of writing system that was in Nigeria, besides Arabic is the Nsibidi that was practiced by MY people.  Cool

And like 4 other groups of people, but I don't see them in this thread talking about it.  I thought this was a Benin thread?


MaziUche0 (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #141 on: March 07, 2011, 11:13 PM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 07, 2011, 11:06 PM
And like 4 other groups of people, but I don't see them in this thread talking about it.  I thought this was a Benin thread?




Who were the other 4 groups of people? I have given your people enough credit. I am just teasing though. . .
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #142 on: March 07, 2011, 11:18 PM »

"Nsibidi is an indigenous adaptable and fluid writing system of two dimensional signs, three dimensional forms of pictographs and ideographs and pantomimed gestures. It originated as an esoteric form of knowledge understood by a select group of people mostly members of a secret society in Southeastern Nigeria which some sources link to the Ejagham and later spread to Efik, Igbo, Ibibio, Efut, Annang and Banyang speaking areas. "

http://nigerianwiki.com/wiki/Nsibidi
MaziUche0 (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #143 on: March 07, 2011, 11:29 PM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 07, 2011, 11:18 PM
"Nsibidi is an indigenous adaptable and fluid writing system of two dimensional signs, three dimensional forms of pictographs and ideographs and pantomimed gestures. It originated as an esoteric form of knowledge understood by a select group of people mostly members of a secret society in Southeastern Nigeria which some sources link to the Ejagham and later spread to Efik, Igbo, Ibibio, Efut, Annang and Banyang speaking areas. "

http://nigerianwiki.com/wiki/Nsibidi

I am not even talking about all Igbos, because nsibidi was unknown to the Western Igbos. The only Igbo group that used Nsibidi and perfected it, were the Aro Igbo.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #144 on: March 07, 2011, 11:35 PM »

Ok. Well I answered your question. You asked what other groups and I told you.






Moving on . . .




The Benin Moat
Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

The defensive fortification of Benin City, the capital, consisted of ramparts and moats, call iya, enclosing a 4000 square kilometer (2485.5 miles) of community lands. In total, the Benin wall system encompasses over 10,000 kilometres (6213.7 miles) of earth boundaries. They range in size from shallow traces to the immense 20-meter-high rampart (66 feet) around Benin City (Wesler 1998: 144).


PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #145 on: March 07, 2011, 11:42 PM »



Headdress
Red phrygian cap with copper elements
Kingdom of Benin, Nigeria, Africa
Copper, fabric
28,5 x 25 x 31,5 cm, 999 g
© Musée du quai Branly, Paris (Photo Patrick Gries)
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #146 on: March 07, 2011, 11:47 PM »



Relief Plaque with Bird Hunt,
Benin – Nigeria ca. 1650 / 17th Century Bronze.
16.9 x 13.3 inches / 43 x 34 cm. Kotalla 03300807.
Provenance: Collection Paul Garn. Dresden, Germany.
Purchased in 1920/30, Paris.
Image courtesy of Wolfgang Roth and Partners Fine Art.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #147 on: March 07, 2011, 11:48 PM »



amazonia (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #148 on: March 08, 2011, 05:02 AM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 07, 2011, 10:11 PM
Amazonia, these are the kind of Olokun symbols I'm familiar with:





The first picture is from the book The Art of Benin by Paula Ben-Amos

The second picture is from the article "The Initiation of a Priestess: Performance and Imagery in Olokun Ritual" by Joseph Nevadomsky and Norma Rosen


So you're definitely right about it being written in columns/rows, but I still don't think the Olokun symbols constitute a written system for daily communication like ezeagu was asking about.

If you can find an image of this aroko writing, then please share it somehow. Or at least describe this binary writing.



The followings are some examples of the writings i am talking about. Like i said before, the basic
structures are the same, but, the symbols varies.

    l l
    l l
    l l
    l l  ogbe-bor,or ogbe meji. Tending towards harmony. female. negative polarity.Yes, but depending

    l
    l
    l
    l  ogbe. homeostasis. male. positive polarity. Unconditional yes.

ll
l
l
l   Osa

l
ll
ll
ll   uncertainty

l
ll
l
l   re-examine

ll
l
ll
ll    lka.

l
ll
ll
l  blessing especially of new life.

etc etc.  I am not going to do any teaching on this. Yes these are small examples of words and phrases
in aro-oko.



U de vex?
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #149 on: March 08, 2011, 05:20 AM »

traditional writing was widespread in Nigeria, but limited to enlightened initiates. A lot of what you think is art is really a detailed form of communication to the "educated."

@PhysicsMHD
Get in touch with Dr. Izevbigie. That man's knowledge will enrich your life no end, he is very approachable as well. I've not been in contact with him for donkey years now, but write to him stating your interest.

His from the Eweka line, its guaranteed, he'll make your jaw drop (and with proof too).
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #150 on: March 08, 2011, 08:09 PM »

Quote from: MaziUche0 on March 07, 2011, 11:29 PM
I am not even talking about all Igbos, because nsibidi was unknown to the Western Igbos. The only Igbo group that used Nsibidi and perfected it, were the Aro Igbo.

You're wrong, Bende, Ebonyi and Ngwa people used it as well.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #151 on: March 08, 2011, 08:50 PM »

Quote from: amazonia on March 08, 2011, 05:02 AM
The followings are some examples of the writings i am talking about. Like i said before, the basic
structures are the same, but, the symbols varies.

    l l
    l l
    l l
    l l  ogbe-bor,or ogbe meji. Tending towards harmony. female. negative polarity.Yes, but depending

    l
    l
    l
    l  ogbe. homeostasis. male. positive polarity. Unconditional yes.

ll
l
l
l   Osa

l
ll
ll
ll   uncertainty

l
ll
l
l   re-examine

ll
l
ll
ll    lka.

l
ll
ll
l  blessing especially of new life.

etc etc.  I am not going to do any teaching on this. Yes these are small examples of words and phrases
in aro-oko.





I see, thanks for the info.

Are those symbols the same as those seen here?:

http://books.google.com/books?id=YLBdDqZj4L0C&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=olokun+symbols&source=bl&ots=4chrO9Fvcw&sig=NTdDNzMUBwLdUbq8CVKgnPgUR9M&hl=en&ei=h09lTaT1JMiltwfw-bDPBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=olokun%20symbols&f=false

Or are they different?

If they are different, then Edos should publish, officially, articles or books on these symbols.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #152 on: March 08, 2011, 08:59 PM »

Quote from: U de vex? on March 08, 2011, 05:20 AM
traditional writing was widespread in Nigeria, but limited to enlightened initiates. A lot of what you think is art is really a detailed form of communication to the "educated."

@PhysicsMHD
Get in touch with Dr. Izevbigie. That man's knowledge will enrich your life no end, he is very approachable as well. I've not been in contact with him for donkey years now, but write to him stating your interest.

His from the Eweka line, its guaranteed, he'll make your jaw drop (and with proof too).

I assume you're referring to this Dr. Izevbigie (there is another Dr. Izevbigie who's a biology prof):

http://www.clarku.edu/~jborgatt/Izevbigie.html

"DR. (CHIEF) OMOKARO IZEVBIGIE
CONTACT ADDRESS:  Dept. of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin, Benin City
PHONE: 052-259597 (Land Line); 0803 373 7485 (GSM)
E-MAIL: 

EDUCATION (Degree, Concentration, Institution with Date)
1971-1978  Ph.D. Art History (Traditional African Art) University of Washington, Seattle

1972            M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) Art Education, University of Washington,

                     Seattle                           
1966-1970  B.A. (Hons) Fine Arts - Amadu Bello University, Zaria 
1963-1964  T.C. II  Benin/Delta Teachers Training College, Benin City

1959-1960  T.C. III Provisional Teachers Training College, Agbede

PROFESSIONAL POSITIONS
1979-present  Art History Lecturer and Coordinator of Art History Programs,
                           University of Benin, Benin City
1999-2003        Civil Commissioner, Edo State Government

1973-1978        Instructor, Ethnic Studies, Shoreline Community College, Seattle
1973-1978        Interdiscip. Service Coordinator, Mt. Baker Youth Service Program, Seattle
1971-1973       Teaching Assistant, University of Washington, Seattle (Art History)
1970                  Instructor (Art), Anglican Women Teachers College, Benin City

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
Member, African Studies Association (U.S.A.)
Member, Nigerian Society for Education through Art (NSEA)
Member, National Art Education Society of America (NAEA)
Member, The Kiwanis Club International, U.S.A.
Fellow, Institute of Corporate Executives of Nigeria (FICEM)
Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (FCIM)
Fellow, Society of Nigerian Artists (FSNA) and current Chairman, Edo State Chapter

HONORS AND AWARDS
2000  Certificate of Merit: Best Commissioner, Edo State, 2000, from Centre for International Legal Cooperation and Democratic Development in Nigeria.
2001 Merit and Nobel Peace Awards, from Afr. Youth Missionary International  Assoc.

1999  Appointed and sworn in as Chief Ihama of Ugbeka by the Enogie of Evbohighae, Orhionmwon Local Government Area.

DISSERTATION/THESES - UNPUBLISHED
1978   Olokun - a focal symbol of Religion and Art in Benin.
 Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, Seattle
1972   Benin Bronze Casting Techniques. M.A.T. Project
1970   Bini Mud Sculpture, B.A. Thesis

JURIED PUBLICATIONS (Also ARTICLES ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION)
forthcoming "The Masking Traditions of Kwakiutl and Benin," KIABARA - a Journal for the Humanities, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Vol. 6, No. 2.

2000   “Native African Arts and Culture in the New World: A case study of African Retiontins in the United States of America” in African Studies Monographs, Vol.21, No.2., Centre for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, pp. 45-54.
1999-2000   “Art as the Bedrock of Social and Technological Development: A Case of Improving the Quality of Art Lessons in Schools and Colleges” in Benin Journal of Educational Studies, Vols. 12&13, No.1&2, Institute of Education, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, ppl 56-63.
1995  “Benin Traditional Religion” in Critical Perspectives on Father Kevin Carrol, Society of African Missions, Ibadan.  (Chapter 20).
1995  “Origin of Olokun Worship in Benin” inCritical Perspectives on Father Kevin Carrol, Society of African Missions, Ibadan.  (Chapter 22).
1995    "Description of Ekaladerhan Olokun Temple, Ughoton"(Appendix 4) in D.N. Oronsaye,The History of the Ancient Benin Kingdom & Empire, Jeromelaihon, Lagos, pp. 82-101
1988   "Olokun & Leadership in Traditional Benin," Nigeria Magazine, Federal Department of Culture, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, May.
1987   "Mbari and Olokun Compared," Nigeria Magazine, Federal Department of Culture, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, Vol. 55, No.4, Oct-Dec, pp.32-36.
1987  "Sources of Mud Sculpture in Southern Nigeria," Ivie Magazine, Bendel Arts Council, Benin City, 5th Edition.

OTHER PROFESSIONAL WORK (SELECTED)
1997  Organized exhibition to commemorate the British Invasion of Benin of 1897, Benin City
1991 "Society through the Eyes of the Artists," Society of Nigerian Artists, Bendel State Chapter.  Exhibited four works and authored catalogue's introduction.
1985 Assisted Dr. F. Kaplan, visiting Fulbright Scholar from NYU to organize and identify the art exhibits entitled Ärt of the Royal Court of Benin, Benin Museum, Benin City.
1975  Tie and Dye in Nigeria, Lectures-Workshop-Exhibition, Evergreen State College, Olympia (WA)
1974 Benin Bronze Casting in Photographs, Shoreline Community College, Seattle (WA)
1971  One-man art exhibition  of bronze works cast using the ancient techniques of bronze-casting in Benin plus demonstration.  Gallery Nimba, Seattle.

PERSONAL DATA
PLACE OF BIRTH: Evbohighae, Orhionmwon Local Government Area, Edo State
STATE OF ORIGIN: Edo State
HOME TOWN:   Evbohighae
CITIZENSHIP:  Nigerian
MARITIAL STATUS:  Married with Children"



Thanks for the info, but I'm not in Nigeria right now, so I couldn't approach him. Do you know his email?

Has he or anybody else published any articles or books on aro-oko writing systems or Olokun symbols as writing?

U de vex?
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #153 on: March 08, 2011, 09:52 PM »

^
Shocked

Damn! I didn't know the man had such a trail! Yes, thats the right one, I don't know how much he can tell you about traditional writing (although I know it'll be a lot). I'm not going to be of help with getting in touch with him either, cos its a long time since I lost touch; you've just got to try to reach him, you could write him through Uniben or something. I recall him to be very very nice and approachable, you shouldn't have problems, especially if you're approaching him about his pet love, African (not just Benin) history.
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #154 on: March 08, 2011, 10:22 PM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 08, 2011, 08:59 PM
1987   "Mbari and Olokun Compared," Nigeria Magazine, Federal Department of Culture, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, Vol. 55, No.4, Oct-Dec, pp.32-36.

Another communication form. Aroko (and Olokun) seems to have been used by different ethnic groups like nsibidi, but I don't think Aroko is writing.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #155 on: March 10, 2011, 11:18 PM »



Plan of Benin City (Pl. XIV)
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #156 on: March 10, 2011, 11:20 PM »

"Under these OGIES are many villages ruled over by headmen equivalent to the KONGOZOVO in the Kongo. These. headmen have a number of families under them, each of which have land given to them for planting. There may be waste land in a province or a kingdom, but that is not to, say that it is no man's land for it belongs either to the OGIE, or the OBA.

There were three other roads (Pl. XIV) leading from the OBA'S Compound to places within the outer wall, ODUHUMIDUMU to the east, where the OBA "played," and ODOKORAW to the residence of the OBA's eldest son, and ODIEKOGBA to the country at the back of the palace.

The OBA'S Compound became the centre of a very large city surrounded by two great ditches and the thrown-up earth forming walls on either side of them.

It takes one more than half an hour's hard walking to march from the inner wall or ditch on one side of the city to the same on the other side. And from the inner to the outer wall the distance varies from 1,000 to 3,600 paces.

The main roads are those leading from the Oba's Compound to Siluka, Yira and Ifon, Geduma, Sapoba, Sapeli, and Gilly Gilly.

In the olden days when the Sapoba and Gilly Gilly roads were unbroken approaches to and only bordered on one side by the palace wall and on the other by IMARAN'S house they must have had a very grand and beautiful appearance. A hundred paces broad, these green glades were lined by trees, growing on the raised sweeping of years on either side.'

It was the duty of certain towns to come in to Benin City yearly and clean and sweep these glorious entrances to the palace.

1. The OBA'S Compound was roughly divided into three quarters. The OBA's quarter EGWAI. The wives' quarter ODERIE, and the Eunuchs' quarter called after the first great Eunuch URUKPOTA.2

[1. The poorer people who could not afford to bury their dead in houses threw their bodies on to this road, so that with-these and the bodies of people sacrificed it really had an awful appearance.

2 They say that OVERAMI did not castrate people to act as Eunuchs, but that any child who had the misfortune to be born without, or by an accident to lose these parts, was brought by his parents to the king. It is possible that this is in part the truth, but what about those holes in the wall of a town not far from Benin City, through which they say the victim's head was thrust while this operation was carried out.]

Then there were eleven other divisions into which the City was divided and the names of these parts are those of the great chiefs who first founded them.

2. The beadmen's quarter (OBADAGBONYI) known as IDUMI WEBO. These people under NWAGWE appear to have partly lived close to the King in his Compound and partly to the N.W. of it.

3. Then to the South, behind the wall of the ODERIE was the quarter called OGBEZAWTI.

4. From here to where OBASEKI has his house was called OGBE.

5. Round about where ARASI has his house was called OGBIOKA (OBA'S son's quarter).

6. And where OBAYAGBON has his house was named the IDUMU IBIWI.

7. And where IHALIKA lives was called IDUM'EBO.

8. Then from the UDO or SILUKU road to the IKPOBA or GEDUMA road is named after OLENOKWA.

9. And from the IKPOBA road to the SAPOBA road the name is IDUMGWOSA as far as the house of PUSH PUSH.

10. From the latter's house along the Sapoba road is still called IDUMEDIE.

11. From there to the ditch, near the Sapeli road is called IDUMSIAMALU.

12. From the Sapeli road to OGBEZAWTI is called OGBILAKA.

In the OBA'S Compound there was also a quarter called IDUMWUKI, where certain people observed the changes of the moon." - R.E. Dennett, At the Back of the Black Man's Mind, 1906
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #157 on: March 10, 2011, 11:25 PM »

"By a house, I mean the abode of a family [1] living under its head, and not merely the dwelling place of an individual.

This house (Pl. XVI) is built on the same lines, though on a smaller scale than a chief's palace.

Passing along a road (ODÉ) one comes to a fence on one side of it, and this outer fence they call OGBOLI. Passing through an entrance there is, at a given distance, a second fence called EGODOLI, and then a third called EKUNUGOLI before coming to the house. The front wall of this house is called EBOWI, the side walls IGIEKA, and the back wall IYEKOWA.

The space between the enclosing wall and the house in front is called AGUDULI, while those on the sides and back are made into a garden called EGUN.

The house is divided into three sections, the centre part being the husband's quarters, looking towards the road to the left the wives' quarters ODERIE (Pl. XVb), and to the right the young men's quarters YEKOGBE. The doorway is called EKU, while the passages are called OBIOVIO.

The rooms are ranged in both these latter quarters on the inner sides of the outer walls of the house and the outer sides of the walls of the husband's quarter, and are mere lean-to sheds.

[1. The family is called EGRE, and is composed of ERA, father, OMIWU, the sons of the father, EYE, INYHEYHI, SAPAMAREGUDI, EGABIONA and the next our generations, none of whom may intermarry.]

The centre part or husbands' quarters of an ideal Bini house is divided into four rooms.

1. IKUNU OGULI or ALERA, father's room, where there is an altar to the memory of the occupant's father.

2. IKUNU KADICI or ALWIYE, mother's room.

3. IKUNU AROHUMU, the reigning son's room, or the head's grove or temple.

The entrance passage to this room is called ONURU, and facing you as you enter is the side of the altar AROWEBO (bead grove or altar).[1] There is an entrance to the wives' quarter from this. The roofs of these rooms incline towards the centre, which is an open square, and is upheld by a pillar (EHAWI) in each corner of the square. The floor of this square is about twelve inches or more below the level of the floor running round it, and this basin is called EGUDU. On the side opposite the altar is a raised platform of mud serving as a sofa or bed which is called UKBO. On the left hand side, just after entering the third room, are two closed-in rooms which you enter through small openings in the wall, one being the wife's room UGUGA, and the other the husband's room, OGWA.

The fourth room is a spare quarter called ODUOWA, and in a garden on the outside of the back wall of the ODUOWA is a general or medicine altar called OGUSHUN.

They call the roof EROHUMOWA, and it is made of the leaves (EBE) of a reed-like plant with a large leaf called EMWAME.

The ridge pole goes by the name OKPO, the rafter EREDOMI, while the opening or funnel down which the rain flows into the EGUDU is called the OBOTO." -  R.E. Dennett, At the Back of the Black Man's Mind, 1906





PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #158 on: March 19, 2011, 10:35 PM »





(e) A courtyard in the house of Chief Iyase the Elder, Benin, 1953.

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #159 on: March 19, 2011, 10:55 PM »



(f) The exterior of the house of Chief Iyase the Younger, Benin, 1953.



(g) A courtyard in the house of the Enogie of Egban-En, near Benin, 1953.


BENIN HOUSES The primitive huts of the Plateau may hardly deserve the name of architecture, but at Benin a highly developed method of mud building and a traditional and formal way of house-planning have combined to produce buildings of real architectural quality. At the height of its power Benin was the prosperous capital of a powerful empire. The city was laid out on a formal pattern of broad streets running at right angles to each other along which the houses were built to a regular frontage, a rare thing for Africa. After the punitive expedition of I897 the major part of the city was destroyed by fire, but in the modern town the ancient formal plan is still recognizable, while around the perimeter can be traced the outline of the great wall. This was originally double-palisaded with thick tree trunks, against which were laid spars five or six feet long fastened together and plastered over with red clay, while in front of it was a ditch and a hedge of thorns. The wall is now entirely ruined and in many places is so overgrown with bush that the traces of it are practically lost. Most of the buildings in the African town are little more than mean shacks, sub- divided over and over again with a separate family occupying each compartment, but there still remain a few chiefs' houses planned in the traditional manner, while in the surrounding villages there are some important buildings which certainly antedate the Great Fire (Plate Ag). The houses of Benin chiefs are planned so that the rooms are arranged around a series of internal courtyards (Plate Ae), leading one into the other much on the pattern of the Classical Roman house with its sequence of atria. In the centre of the roof of each courtyard is a hole which serves to admit light and air, while immediately below it in the floor is a sunken impluvium with an outlet to carry away the storm water. Indeed, so striking is the resemblance to Roman examples that theories have been advanced linking the Benin plans with Roman sources via Egypt. The internal courtyard, however, is a typical Mediterranean feature and here is more likely to be due to Portuguese influence. Or perhaps the Portuguese simply introduced some formality into the courtyard arrangement which in itself is common throughout southern Nigeria. The various courtyards may be with or without a peristyle of columns, depending on their size, but a common feature in them all are couches and shrines constructed entirely of mud, the surface of which is polished to a high glaze and has a remarkable quality of endurance so that even the oldest examples appear to have been but recently built. The sequence of courtyards culminates in the private apartments of the chief, while on each side are arranged the wives' and boys' quarters. Externally the mud walls are finished in a pattern of horizontal ribs, a fashion of building which has now practically died out, and old houses are usually recognizable by this kind of work. The roofs were originally of thatch-it was through one of these roofs catching alight that the Great Fire began-but this has now been replaced practically everywhere by corrugated iron, although the old method of providing a thatched coping on a light wooden framework to the tops of courtyard walls still persists. In contrast to Yoruba and Ibo houses the roof construction is of heavy timbers carefully framed together around the opening in the roof, and they are sometimes ornamented with carving. Doors and their jambs and the wooden posts supporting the peristyle around the larger courtyards are often ornamented in the same way.

Behind the rather unimpressive exterior (Plate Af) of the house of Chief lyase the Younger lies one of the best preserved examples of a chief's house still to be found in the city, although various alterations have been made to it from time to time, particularly to the street frontage where a small brick portico has been added. The general lines of the plan (fig. 2)



FIG. 2. PLAN OF THE HOUSE OF CHIEF IYASE THE YOUNGER, BENIN

show a central block in which there is the main sequence of courtyards and apartments, surrounded on each side by rooms of lesser importance for the women- folk and the boys, while the odd corners are taken up by numerous small rooms without windows which are used for storage. In this particular house the courtyards are small, being little larger than room size, and the first contains the shrine of Erha, the Paternal or Ancestral Altar. On it stands a row of brass-plated wooden heads, shown wearing coral-bead collars, in front of a line of rattle sticks.

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