Benin Art And Architecture (6)

Instead of marble fountains, Benin should dedicate one part of the city to historical site seeing where they would rebuild a part of the old Benin City. They can't be surprised how many international visitors would show up.
bokohalal (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #161 on: March 20, 2011, 10:25 AM »

@ Ezeagu,I vehemently concur.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #162 on: March 21, 2011, 01:42 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 20, 2011, 12:49 AM
Instead of marble fountains, Benin should dedicate one part of the city to historical site seeing where they would rebuild a part of the old Benin City. They can't be surprised how many international visitors would show up.

I have to cosign this 100%.

I used to think it was an issue of money (to build and maintain the site, and protect it from the rain), but I think there's more than enough money to do it.

The Nigerian government did at least build one replica (maybe more, I don't know) of a traditional Benin building at the museum of traditional Nigerian architecture at Jos decades ago.

It's the building I mistakenly identified as the rebuilt house of a chief in this post http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-582176.0.html#msg7492991


The initiative for the museum of traditional architecture and consequently, the replica, was by Zbigniew Dmochowski, who was responsible for the three volume book Introduction to Traditional Nigerian Architecture, a large and obscure book full of photos, drawings, commentary, etc. on the architecture of all regions of Nigeria that I have not been able to obtain or read at any library. If not for this Dmochowski fellow, who was a Pole, I doubt any Nigerian government, whether federal or state, would have commissioned any studies, museums, or replicas of any Nigerian architecture.  Undecided
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #163 on: March 21, 2011, 02:06 AM »

In addition to a rebuilt 'Old Benin', I would like to see someone dressed in this armour, is there anywhere where this type of armour is shown or is put on a model?

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #164 on: March 21, 2011, 03:14 AM »

There's a very good image in a Benin art book I read of an upper torso of Benin armor that's in a British (not Nigerian) museum.

It looks like the outfit in this:



So the image in that book might be the same as this image.

I'll post some rarer images of different military outfits on plaques from some books that I have later.


But in general, the military outfits seen on Benin bronze plaques are neither worn by Benin chiefs (which makes sense, since there would be no reason to wear them), nor have I seen any replicas of them made. Maybe some chiefs or some people in the palace might have some traditional military outfits, but I haven't seen any that have been published.

Some of the chiefs' ceremonial robes seen on the plaques, such as the pangolin skin robe as seen here: http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-582176.32.html#msg7493255 are worn in modern times by chiefs during some ceremonies. There are pictures in books and on various sites of modern chiefs in non-military outfits like the ones on the plaques, but I've never seen any military outfits.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #165 on: March 21, 2011, 03:20 AM »

Quote


(f) The exterior of the house of Chief Iyase the Younger, Benin, 1949.



PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #166 on: March 21, 2011, 03:21 AM »

Quote


(g) A courtyard in the house of the Enogie of Egban-En, near Benin, 1949.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #167 on: March 21, 2011, 03:24 AM »

Quote
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.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #168 on: March 21, 2011, 03:24 AM »

Quote
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.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #169 on: March 21, 2011, 03:29 AM »

^^^

I would have to point out that contrary to the assertions in the above, the courtyard and impluvium arrangements  found throughout all of southern Nigeria (not just Benin) do not derive from Rome, Egypt, or the Portuguese.  Undecided

Smh @ the hyperdiffusionism.

Regardless, the article is valuable for its other information.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #170 on: March 21, 2011, 03:44 AM »

Quote
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)



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.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #171 on: March 21, 2011, 03:51 AM »

Quote
The next courtyard contains two small shrines, while in the third is the shrine of Orunmila, the spirit of Good Luck (fig. 3), the most imposing in the whole house, consisting of a series of recesses like pigeon holes built in the solid mud



FIG. 3. THE SHRINE OF ORUNMILA IN THE HOUSE OF CHIEF IYASE THE YOUNGER, BENIN

in chessboard formation and stretching right up to the ceiling. These recesses are typical of Benin work and this particular house abounds in them, there being several over the chief's couch in the next room where he keeps his personal charms and fetishes, while in the kitchen rows of them have been let into the thickness- of the walls to take pots and kitchen utensils. The lower half of the shrine and the narrow walk around the impluvium are decorated with patterns and designs in cowrie shells illustrating figures from Benin mythology walking in procession and carrying strands of coral and other emblems of the Oba's authority.
PhysicsRND (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #172 on: March 21, 2011, 03:54 AM »

Quote
Benin builders are justly famed for their craftsmanship, and there are several other houses in the city which would well repay detailed exploration. In some the courtyards are of much larger dimensions than in the house described above and one example has a peristyle of squat mud columns covered with figures in relief work running round them in parallel bands, while others have Brazilian Classical loggias (cf. MAN, I952, i65) running across the whole of the frontage.

Unfortunately the traditional methods of building in mud are fast dying out and no more houses of this kind are likely to be built in the future, while many of those that remain are now becoming dilapidated, for after a certain time the cost of maintaining a mud building becomes prohibitive. When this happens the doors and windows are stripped out for re-use and the building is left to tumble into ruin. In her long history Benin has been rebuilt manv times, and one traveller in the eighteenth century describes great areas of waste land in the centre of the city covered with the ruins of houses so that those that remained 'stood far apart like poor man's corn.' That the same conditions prevail at present need not be regretted, for the growing commercial prosperity of Nigeria will ensure that a new Benin will arise on the ruins of the old. What is a matter of concern, however, is that no accurate records have yet been made of a method of building and a system of planning which is without parallel in the whole of Nigeria.

The preceding, and images e through g and fig. 2 and fig. 3, are from:


"Some Aspects of Nigerian Architecture"
Author(s): Arthur M. Foyle
Source: Man, Vol. 53 (Jan., 1953), pp. 1-3
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #173 on: March 21, 2011, 04:05 AM »

Quote
Benin builders are justly famed for their craftsmanship, and there are several other houses in the city which would well repay detailed exploration. In some the courtyards are of much larger dimensions than in the house described above and one example has a peristyle of squat mud columns covered with figures in relief work running round them in parallel bands, while others have Brazilian Classical loggias (cf. MAN, I952, i65) running across the whole of the frontage.

Unfortunately the traditional methods of building in mud are fast dying out and no more houses of this kind are likely to be built in the future, while many of those that remain are now becoming dilapidated, for after a certain time the cost of maintaining a mud building becomes prohibitive. When this happens the doors and windows are stripped out for re-use and the building is left to tumble into ruin. In her long history Benin has been rebuilt manv times, and one traveller in the eighteenth century describes great areas of waste land in the centre of the city covered with the ruins of houses so that those that remained 'stood far apart like poor man's corn.' That the same conditions prevail at present need not be regretted, for the growing commercial prosperity of Nigeria will ensure that a new Benin will arise on the ruins of the old. What is a matter of concern, however, is that no accurate records have yet been made of a method of building and a system of planning which is without parallel in the whole of Nigeria.



"Some Aspects of Nigerian Architecture"
Author(s): Arthur M. Foyle
Source: Man, Vol. 53 (Jan., 1953), pp. 1-3
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #174 on: March 21, 2011, 04:14 PM »



Relief Plaque with Palace Guard
Benin, Nigeria
17th century
Bronze
52 x 40 cm


To a certain extent, one can envisage the architecture of Benin's palace on the basis of descriptions provided by Dutchman Olfert Dapper (1635-1689); accordingly, the scene depicted here can be reasonably interpreted as the gateway to the Oba's palace. Dapper's descriptions, for example, mention a tower crowned with bronze-cast bird and snake.   Such towers were used to mark the entrance to the palace or the passageways from one courtyard to the next. The roof is not, however, decorated with palm leaves as Dapper describes, but rather with wood shingles.

It is supported by pillars engraved with decorative faces, and the bird that tops it is an attribute typical for this motif. It is usually seen as an ibis, though sometimes as a thrush, and it has special meaning in Benin's culture as a soothsaying and prophesying bird.
The two armed palace guards on the steps wear aprons and tall coral collars, which designate them as high-ranking members of royal court society. The two other attendants are unclothed but for a small coral necklace and a handheld fan. Above the roof, a four-leaf motif dominates the background. This motif appears very often on bronze plaques from Benin and is associated with Olokun, god of the water.




Cp.:
Felix von LUSCHAN: Die Altertümer von Benin, Band 1, Berlin 1919, S. 253/ 254.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 278.

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #175 on: March 21, 2011, 04:16 PM »



Relief Plaque with Palace Guard
Benin, Nigeria
17th/ 18th century
Bronze
50 x 40 cm


Though the established and apparently conclusive interpretation of this motif is as gateway to the royal palace (see previous plaque), the latest research presents alternative readings. Both Frank Willett and Barbara Blackmun see this as neither entranceway nor passageway, but rather as an alter at whose entrance stood something to be guarded - something invisible to the viewer.

The lack of mounting holes in this plaque is unusual, given that all those plaques ripped from the palace walls by the British expedition in the course of its 1897 robbery feature them. Some plaques were apparently embedded directly in doors and panels without the aid of such holes. According to oral tradition, the bronze guild often cast at least two plaques of one motif; one would be hung and the other stored. Today, the stored pieces exhibit no wear and tear whatsoever.



Cp.:
Felix von LUSCHAN: Die Altertümer von Benin, Band 1, Berlin 1919, S. 253/ 254.
Armand DUCHATEAU: Benin. Kunst einer afrikanischen Königskultur, München 1995, S. 58.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 278.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #176 on: March 21, 2011, 04:22 PM »

PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #177 on: March 21, 2011, 04:23 PM »




Benin Brass Plaque

Brass Plaque from the Oba's palace in Benin City. 16th Century.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #178 on: March 21, 2011, 04:25 PM »



PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #179 on: March 21, 2011, 04:26 PM »



PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #180 on: March 21, 2011, 04:27 PM »



PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #181 on: March 21, 2011, 04:28 PM »



Benin brass head, 19th c.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #182 on: March 21, 2011, 04:28 PM »



Figure Caption: Mastery of ritual medicine was a must for a man who wanted to rise in the palace. Rivals tried to incapacitate each other, whether through social embarrassment or total destruction. This 18th century brass hip pendant has an abstract elephant head over its mouth. It symbolizes power, its trunk (ending in a hand) clutching the leaves that are often used to make medicine. Photo: Penn Museum.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #183 on: March 21, 2011, 04:29 PM »



Figure Caption: This 19th century ring belonged to the king. Coral and red stone beads are Benin’s most precious materials. Photo: Penn Museum.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #184 on: March 21, 2011, 04:30 PM »



Figure Caption: A high-ranking military chief dominates this 16th century plaque, one of nearly a thousand that decorated Benin palace courtyards. Accompanied by an entourage of lieutenants, musicians and pages prepared to fan him, the chief dances at the palace war festival. Photo: Penn Museum.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #185 on: March 21, 2011, 04:32 PM »




Benin brass plaque: the King (Oba) on horseback with attendants. 16th century

The Kingdom of Benin (in present day Nigeria) flourished in the 16th century. The Palace in Benin City was decorated with numerous brass plaques depicting life at the royal court. Here, the Oba of Benin is accompanied by two court attendants who support him as he sits 'side-saddle' on a horse led by a groom. The heavy burden of Kingship is evident. British Museum, London, Africa Gallery.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #186 on: March 21, 2011, 04:34 PM »



18th century: Brass Lidded Container
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #187 on: March 21, 2011, 04:35 PM »



Container in the Shape of a Palace Building
17th - 18th century: The hinged box container in the shape of the palace depicts the king's conference chamber.
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #188 on: March 21, 2011, 04:35 PM »

PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #189 on: March 21, 2011, 04:37 PM »

PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #190 on: March 21, 2011, 04:38 PM »

PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #191 on: March 21, 2011, 04:39 PM »

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