Benin Art And Architecture (8)



Benin Bronze Head - DG.026 (LSO)
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 1850 AD to 1900 AD
Dimensions: 10.5" (26.7cm) high
Collection: African Art
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #225 on: March 21, 2011, 05:33 PM »



Benin Bronze Plaque - DB.014 (LSO)
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 18.5" (47.0cm) high x 9.5" (24.1cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Style: Benin
Medium: bronze
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #226 on: March 21, 2011, 05:35 PM »



Benin Bronze Hip Mask - DB.016 (LSO)
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 18 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 8.4" (21.3cm) high x 6" (15.2cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #227 on: March 21, 2011, 05:36 PM »



Benin Bronze Leopard - CK.0001
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high x 8.75" (22.2cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #228 on: March 21, 2011, 05:37 PM »



Benin Bronze Head - CK.0064
Origin: Nigeria
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 17 th Century AD
Dimensions: 8.5" (21.6cm) high x 5.5" (14.0cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze


Location: United States
PhysicsHD
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #229 on: March 21, 2011, 05:39 PM »



Benin Bronze Bird - SK.063
Origin: Nigeria
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high x 5.25 " (13.3cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze
Jen33 (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #230 on: March 26, 2011, 01:50 AM »

I see INSCRIPTIONS on this man's skirt. Just below the belt. Look closely.




Benin Bronze

I'm yet to be convinced that the Benin Kingdom did not have some form of written text.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #231 on: March 27, 2011, 03:38 AM »

The issue is not whether Benin had symbols, such as the olokun symbols on that man's wrapper, but whether they had a functional and organized, formal system of writing. Benin was sufficiently organized that if they had had writing, certain palace officials, such as those in charge of astrology or knowing the king's list, would certainly have written down such information. A possibility is that there may have been some information written down, but it was later burnt during the burning of the city. However that is merely speculation at this point.

As for inscriptions, could you describe more clearly what you see? I see an olokun symbol, a ram's head, a face, and then geometric decorations and designs on his wrapper. I don't see inscriptions.


More Olokun symbols:


"On the fifth day EKINYA is again the market place, and the other three markets follow in the above order to the end of the eight days. But the juju doctor (OBO) renews the chalk marks in front of the ARO, or sacred grove, on the first day, EDEKEN, and on the fifth, which is again EDEKEN.



Chalk marks found on the ground in front of AKE." - At the Back of the Black Man's Mind, by Richard Edward Dennett, [1906]


http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mind/mind21.htm

http://www.aren.org/prison/documents/african/8/8.pdf

^^^^^^^^

I should point out that lots of information in the book (At the Back of the Black Man's Mind) is not correct or inaccurate. However, the author did visit Benin City at or before 1906, and then came up with his theories regarding African religion from firsthand experience, so the symbols he published in 1906 are quite authentic. The question is what was the extent of their use and the level of their development with regard to organized writing? We might not really ever know, given the burning of the overwhelming majority of Benin.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #232 on: March 27, 2011, 03:44 AM »

Then again, if Egyptian hieroglyphs, most of which are just pictures (pictographs) are writing, perhaps it's not out of place to consider the Bini religious symbols as writing. If there were evidence of more extensive/extended use of the symbols, I think they would have been more widely accepted as writing.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #233 on: March 27, 2011, 03:58 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #234 on: March 27, 2011, 04:13 AM »



A drawing of the art on a Benin memorial ivory tusk.
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #235 on: March 27, 2011, 04:17 AM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 27, 2011, 03:44 AM
Then again, if Egyptian hieroglyphs, most of which are just pictures (pictographs) are writing, perhaps it's not out of place to consider the Bini religious symbols as writing. If there were evidence of more extensive/extended use of the symbols, I think they would have been more widely accepted as writing.

The Egyptian hieroglyphs are not pictographs, they are hieroglyphs. Each hieroglyph represents a syllable. The Olokun symbols seem to be ideograms.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #236 on: March 27, 2011, 04:18 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #237 on: March 27, 2011, 04:28 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 27, 2011, 04:17 AM
The Egyptian hieroglyphs are not pictographs, they are hieroglyphs. Each hieroglyph represents a syllable. The Olokun symbols seem to be ideograms.


I think we may be getting into semantics, as I was really just distinguishing between picture based writing and (apparently) purely abstract writing, such as Sanskrit.

"A pictograph[1] (also called pictogram or pictogramme) is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Earliest examples of pictographs include ancient or prehistoric drawings or paintings found on rock walls. Pictographs are also used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to considerable extent pictorial in appearance.

Pictography is a form of writing which uses representational, pictorial drawings. It is a basis of cuneiform and, to some extent, hieroglyphic writing, which uses drawings also as phonetic letters or determinative rhymes."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictogram


Finally, Jean-François Champollion made the complete decipherment by the 1820s:

“ It is a complex system, writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word.[15]”

This was a major triumph for the young discipline of Egyptology.


"Visually hieroglyphs are all more or less figurative: they represent real or illusional elements, sometimes stylized and simplified, but all generally perfectly recognizable in form. However, the same sign can, according to context, be interpreted in diverse ways: as a phonogram (phonetic reading), as a logogram, or as an ideogram (semagram; "determinative") (semantic reading). The determinative was not read as a phonetic constituent, but facilitated understanding by differentiating the word from its homophones."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_hieroglyphs

^^^^

Granted anyone can write anything in wikipedia, but the above makes perfect sense to me.


PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #238 on: March 27, 2011, 04:33 AM »



PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #239 on: March 27, 2011, 04:35 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #240 on: March 27, 2011, 04:47 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #241 on: March 27, 2011, 04:49 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #242 on: March 27, 2011, 04:51 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #243 on: March 27, 2011, 04:54 AM »

PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #244 on: March 27, 2011, 04:56 AM »

ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #245 on: March 27, 2011, 05:02 AM »

Quote from: PhysicsMHD on March 27, 2011, 04:28 AM

I think we may be getting into semantics, as I was really just distinguishing between picture based writing and (apparently) purely abstract writing, such as Sanskrit.

"A pictograph[1] (also called pictogram or pictogramme) is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Earliest examples of pictographs include ancient or prehistoric drawings or paintings found on rock walls. Pictographs are also used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to considerable extent pictorial in appearance.

Pictography is a form of writing which uses representational, pictorial drawings. It is a basis of cuneiform and, to some extent, hieroglyphic writing, which uses drawings also as phonetic letters or determinative rhymes."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictogram


Finally, Jean-François Champollion made the complete decipherment by the 1820s:

“ It is a complex system, writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word.[15]”

This was a major triumph for the young discipline of Egyptology.


"Visually hieroglyphs are all more or less figurative: they represent real or illusional elements, sometimes stylized and simplified, but all generally perfectly recognizable in form. However, the same sign can, according to context, be interpreted in diverse ways: as a phonogram (phonetic reading), as a logogram, or as an ideogram (semagram; "determinative") (semantic reading). The determinative was not read as a phonetic constituent, but facilitated understanding by differentiating the word from its homophones."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_hieroglyphs

^^^^

Granted anyone can write anything in wikipedia, but the above makes perfect sense to me.




It can't be a problem of semantics, because it's not about what they look like or where they come from but what they do. Hieroglyphs are hieroglyphs and not pictogram's because they include phonetics into their use and they do not represent things through drawing. The reply was to the comparison with olokun, which is ideographic and uses no phonetics as far as we know. The reply was to show that the two do not match just because of the way they look because they are used differently.
Rossikk (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #246 on: March 27, 2011, 04:32 PM »

ezeagu said:

Quote
Hieroglyphs are hieroglyphs and not pictogram's because they include phonetics into their use and they do not represent things through drawing.

Not true.

''Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that contained a combination of logographic and alphabetic elements.''

Wikipedia

 
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #247 on: March 27, 2011, 10:03 PM »

Quote from: Rossikk on March 27, 2011, 04:32 PM
ezeagu said:

Not true.

''Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that contained a combination of logographic and alphabetic elements.''

Wikipedia

 

They don't represent things through drawing like pictograms, logograms represent specific words. And I'm not sure whether the Egyptians had an alphabet.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #248 on: March 28, 2011, 01:53 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 27, 2011, 05:02 AM
It can't be a problem of semantics, because it's not about what they look like or where they come from but what they do. Hieroglyphs are hieroglyphs and not pictogram's because they include phonetics into their use and they do not represent things through drawing. The reply was to the comparison with olokun, which is ideographic and uses no phonetics as far as we know. The reply was to show that the two do not match just because of the way they look because they are used differently.

I did not say they matched. I was saying that picture based ("pictographic") writing systems are still considered writing systems despite not being non-pictorial (pure abstraction).

Hieroglyphs are mostly pictures. The phonetic/syllable aspect is not really relevant to what I was saying. The phonetic system in Egyptian hieroglyphs is not what "elevates" Egyptian hieroglyphs to the status of a formal, organized system of symbolic communication and it's not what makes them hieroglyphs. If they had never had phonetics in their language it would still be a formal system of writing using hieroglyphs if they had had extensive or sufficiently detailed use of it for writing and had a full understanding of every image.

The reason I said we were getting into semantics was your apparent insistence on taking "pictograph" to indicate a specific definition of pictogram, which excludes phonetics, when I really just took it to mean what the word's very structure indicates that it means:


"pic·to·graph  (pkt-grf)
n. In all senses also called pictogram.
1. A picture representing a word or idea; a hieroglyph.
2. A record in hieroglyphic symbols.
3. A pictorial representation of numerical data or relationships, especially a graph, but having each value represented by a proportional number of pictures."

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pictographic

Hieroglyphs are pictures representing words or ideas AND (as you pointed out) they were later developed for phonetic use.

I guess you could say that I was ignoring the alphabetic component but that component, in my view, and that of many scholars was almost certainly a later development than the original pictures (hieroglyphs) themselves, and the Egyptian hieroglyphs were not somehow not a written language before the advent of the phonetic aspects.

Similarly, cuneiform seems to have originally been a bunch of pictographs before the development of an alphabet.  It's not the development of a phonetic alphabet which makes it a writing system and, to the best of my knowledge, it's not the (later) existence of an alphabet that makes scholars consider the Egyptian hieroglyphs as one of the earliest writing systems. The phonetic aspect was not really the point of comparison in my original comment, as phonetics can be found across a variety of non-pictorial scripts, but rather I was referring to the communication of ideas with pictures still being considered a writing system. I see your point, however, and my vagueness about what I meant was probably the real problem there. I was never under the impression that there was an alphabet/phonetic system from Olokun symbols, so I should have pointed out that I was not talking about the phonetic aspect of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Rossikk (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #249 on: March 28, 2011, 02:12 AM »

ezeagu said

Quote
They don't represent things through drawing like pictograms, logograms represent specific words. And I'm not sure whether the Egyptians had an alphabet.

Logograms are ideograms, which are pictograms.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #250 on: March 28, 2011, 02:22 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 27, 2011, 10:03 PM
They don't represent things through drawing like pictograms, logograms represent specific words. And I'm not sure whether the Egyptians had an alphabet.


Egyptian hieroglyphs do seem to have represented things through drawings, though (in addition to representing sounds). Perhaps what you mean to point out is that some of the Egyptian hieroglyphs (that are not phonetic) that represent things, refer to specific words, rather than ideas. I guess I didn't understand that initially. I missed that subtlety because many words = ideas, so the depiction of four junctions in an Olokun symbol that is called "four junctions" seemed to me to be no different to me than there being a non-phonetic hieroglyph meaning a certain thing like water or a duck and then having the visual appearance of water or a duck. You are right though, that there is a significant difference between referring to specific things and only representing ideas.



The statement about whether they had an "alphabet" seems to be semantics, however, because the Egytians had phonograms, so it seems there's not really a significant difference there. Unless there's something I'm missing.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #251 on: March 28, 2011, 02:37 AM »

Quote from: Rossikk on March 28, 2011, 02:12 AM
ezeagu said

Logograms are ideograms, which are pictograms.

Ezeagu is right in that there is a significant difference.

Logograms are drawings or symbols referring to a specific word. Ideograms are drawings or symbols which represent/refer to ideas. The confusion that could occur seems to be because, theoretically, the representation of some idea could be identical to a drawing indicating, in the context of a phrase or sentence, a specific word that is the same as that idea, so from these cases we might assume that logograms are extremely close to ideograms, when they are actually very distinct. I think that was the difference ezeagu was pointing out to us. There is a significant difference, as far as qualifications for written language, between having a set of logograms to convey a phrase or sentence and having a set of ideograms to convey a combination of ideas. The end result could, on occasion, be the same (if the words involved for the logograms and the ideas involved for the ideograms are extremely closely related), but the logogram system would clearly be a more highly developed and powerful form of expression than the ideogram system and would qualify as real writing, whether pictographic, or using abstract symbols.
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #252 on: March 28, 2011, 04:17 AM »

Quote from: Rossikk on March 28, 2011, 02:12 AM
ezeagu said

Logograms are ideograms, which are pictograms.

Logogram


Ideogram


Pictogram
ezeagu (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #253 on: March 28, 2011, 04:37 AM »

By the way, is there an indigenous Edo word for 'writing' or 'to write'?
bokohalal (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #254 on: March 28, 2011, 05:04 AM »

Quote from: ezeagu on March 28, 2011, 04:37 AM
By the way, is there an indigenous Edo word for 'writing' or 'to write'?

Yes,there is. The Edo word for `write`is `GBEN`or`GBENE`or` GBENO`or `GBOEN`.
PhysicsMHD (m)
Re: Benin Art And Architecture
« #255 on: March 28, 2011, 06:48 AM »

"Next we come to a figure of OLUKUN'S IYASE who is wearing the ODIGBA and frontlet UDEHSI, collar, armlets and bracelets.

Then opposite to the door at the end of the building we see a great figure of OLUKUN the teacher dressed as a king and figures of his two Nabori (arm upholders) and four Unclad boys or AMADA.

An old priest sits at the feet of this figure near to an altar, half hidden by the long strings of cowries hanging in front of him from the roof.

While I was there a man and two women came into this temple and going up to OLUKUN, knelt down and bowed their heads until they touched the step on which rested the feet of OLUKUN. The priest crushed some chalk and handed some of it to each petitioner, then they marked themselves and went out. On either side of these great central figures are two sons of OBIANIMI very old wooden figures (like those into which nails are driven in the Congo) covered with cowries, bits of cloth, knives, etc., and near to one of these is the figure of a leopard and to the other the skull of a cow and the shell of a tortoise.

On the right in a cloister are the figures of the OLUKUN'S great war chief Ezomo (or OJUMO) wearing his ODIGBA and four necklaces, and his bugler. And near to the door again are the figures of EKIOLUKUN the grandson of OLUKUN wearing four necklaces, and his wife and AMADA.



In the centre of the open space in this temple were three cow's heads surrounded by chalk marks."



- At the Back of the Black Man's Mind, by Richard Edward Dennett, [1906]

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