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Altar Head

8 1/2" high

Circa 18th Century

Benin, Nigeria, West Africa

Bronze, Copper alloy

This head is covered with rows of vertically stylized hair. The ears are C-shaped and the forehead bears parallel vertical scarification. The eyes once had pupils inlaid with iron and are open widely. The nose is splayed and the lips are rendered sensitively. Strands of coral beads encircle the neck.

These heads were placed respectfully on the altars of kings, chiefs and dignitaries. The altars served as a tribute to deceased relatives and served as a place of contact for the loved ones' spirits.


altar head, Benin, Benin bronze, West Africa, African art, African artifacts, African sculpture


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