The Art of Benin Essay

The Art of Benin Essay

Length: 1044 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Western attitudes to African people and culture have always affected how their art was appreciated and this has also coloured the response to the art from Benin.
Over time concepts of ‘Race’, defined as a distinct group with a common linage, and ‘Primitive’ which pertains to the beginning or origin, , have been inextricably linked with the perception of Africa. The confusion of the two in the minds of people at the end of the 19th centaury, and some of the 20th, caused a sense of superiority amongst the ‘White Races’ that affected every aspect of their interaction with ‘the Black’. The ‘Civilisation’ of Africa by conquest and force was justified by these views.
The definition of ‘Negro’ in the Encyclopaedia Britannia just 100 years ago, calls them mentally and intellectually inferior as well as childish and lazy. Any ‘sophisticated’ skills they had must have been taught to them by Westerners. Other sources are even more damning, for instance the forced conversion to Christianity was justified by attitudes such as Georgr Crabb in his Mythology of all Nations (1847) ‘It must be borne in mind that the fictions of mythology were not invented in the ignorance of divine truths, but with a wilful intention to pervert it.’ Based on this any artefacts acquired, mostly by force, could only be of inferior quality and artistic value compared to the sophisticated and civilised West and, if associated with African religion, morally tainted. They were mostly seen as having a purely anthropological value.
However, the artefacts brought to England from Benin in 1897 were an anomaly. The craftsmanship and sophistication were such that some were reminiscent of the beautiful figures in the Hofkiche, Innsbruck 1502-1563 (plate 3.1.12. Visited...

... middle of paper ...

(Accessed 11.02.11)

(Accessed 14.02.11)

African Art
(Accessed 14.02.11)

Benin Massacre (Benin Diplomatic Handbook By USA International Business Publications)
(Accessed 14.02.11)

Fiona Mauchin
The African Biennale: Envisioning ‘Authentic’ African Contemporanity
2009 Stellenbosh University,%20F.pdf?...

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Benin Art in Museums and Galleries Essay

- The display of Benin art in museum and galleries reflect the attitudes and perceptions of Europeans towards non-western artefacts, especially African. Thus as European attitudes change towards non-western art since the discovery of Benin art in 1897, Benin art has been revaluated and re-categorised. Initially there was a great deal of debate about Benin art and its display, as it did not equate with the perceptions then held about Africa. Until the British conquest of Benin in 1897, little was known about Benin and its culture apart from brief interaction with other Europeans in the sixteenth century....   [tags: Africa ]

Strong Essays
1405 words (4 pages)

The Significance of Benin Art and Artifacts Essay

- The attitudes towards the display of Benin Art, adopted by European museums and galleries have dramatically changed over the 112 year period since their initial acquisition. This has been for a number of reasons including the societal transition from accepting colonialism to acknowledging cultural diversity, the gradual integration and cross-fertilisation across the academic fields of anthropology, ethnography and art history and the ongoing debate regarding provenance and repatriation. The Benin artwork seen in museums around the world today was systematically plundered from Benin City by the British in 1897 as part of a punitive expedition in reprisal for the massacre of an overzealous Tra...   [tags: Anthropology, Britain]

Strong Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

Benin Art, Masterpieces that Should be Returned to Their Place of Origin

- The location and ownership of the art of Benin is a highly contested area that provokes strong arguments even to this day on whether or not these artworks should be returned to their place of origin. Forcibly removed during the punitive expedition of Benin in 1987. Not only do the bronzes serve as an important aspect in the oral culture of Benin but by removing the sculptures from their natural homeland it is argued that they cannot be accurately be understood out of that context (Dalton-Johnson, K ‘Cultural Encounters’ 2008, DVD Rom; see transcript p.7)....   [tags: Africa, Discovery, Britain]

Strong Essays
814 words (2.3 pages)

The Benin Bronzes Essay

- This essay deals with the nature of a cross cultural encounter between the Benin people and Portuguese traders in the 15th and 16th centuries, which resulted in the depiction of Portuguese figures in Benin brass plaques. It will propose that this contact between people with different cultures was on the basis of 'mutual regard' (Woods, K. 2008, p. 16), and although the Portuguese had qualms about idolatry in Benin it will show that assumptions by Europeans up to the 20th century of the primitive nature of tribal African societies was inaccurate with regard to the Benin people, who had a society based on the succession of the King or 'Oba', a Royal Family and Nobility....   [tags: Benin Brass Plaques]

Strong Essays
1669 words (4.8 pages)

The Brass Plaques of the Benin Palace Essay

- The Portuguese arrived in Benin, in modern Nigeria, between 1472 and 1486 to find an established and ancient kingdom with remarkable social and ritual complexity, with art that was comparatively naturalistic, and with a political system that was, on the surface, recognizable to the Europeans: monarchy. Even more importantly, they found a land rich in pepper, cloth, ivory, and slaves, and immediately set out to establish trade (Ben-Amos 35-6). Though we often imagine "first contacts" between Europeans and Africans as clashes of epochal proportions, leaving Europeans free to manipulate and coerce the flabbergasted and paralyzed Africans, this misjudges the resilience and indeed, preparedness,...   [tags: Europe European Art Papers]

Strong Essays
2152 words (6.1 pages)

Essay The Kingdom of Benin

- This essay will attempt to discuss the reasons why the ownership and location of the art of Benin have been consistently debated between the European Museums and the people of Africa, specifically Nigeria who were once known as the Kingdom of Benin. How both parties are actively seeking a negotiated method that will allow both sides to have their needs met; this is of course a method that has yet to be resolved. The Museums, who want to display the artwork to the world next to countless other historical artefacts from other countries and the Africans who want their cultural sculptures back within their territory due to the provocative method in which the art of Benin was originally taken and...   [tags: Western Europe, Africa, Culture, Museums]

Strong Essays
1236 words (3.5 pages)

Yoruba Tribe in Africa Essay

- Yoruba is one of many tribes located in Africa and is one of the largest ethno- linguistic groups. Majority of the native people of Yoruba are a part of Southwestern Nigeria and Benin. However, a great percentage of Yoruba is populated by modern day Nigeria. Moreover, the Yoruba culture was an oral tradition, and majority of the people were native speakers of the Yoruba language. The native name of the Yoruba language is ‘Ede Yoruba’. The language originated through the Yoruba people because they were believed to be descendants of Oduduwa....   [tags: Ethno-Linguistic Groups, Nigeria, Benin]

Strong Essays
1249 words (3.6 pages)

Art of Portraiture Essay

- art of portraiture The three works that I chose that are art of portraiture are Head of a King, Mask of an Lyoba, and Mother Goddess. The first two portraits are West African Art from two different tribes, Ife, who created the Head of a King and Benin, whom created the Mask of an Lyoba. The Mother Goddess is an Aztec piece. These groups of people are from different cultures, time periods, and share different religious beliefs. The similarity of the groups is the symbolic meaning the portraitures brought to its people....   [tags: essays papers]

Strong Essays
841 words (2.4 pages)

A Day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Essay

- A Day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I. Jan van Eyck’s “Last Judgment” Jan van Eyck was active since 1422 and died in 1441. He was the most celebrated painter of the fifteen-century in Europe. One of his famous works is “The Last Judgment”. At first sight this work immediately attracted my attention. The painting’s stunning colors and the fact that it reminded me of a previous similar work I have seen, triggered in my mind. The material that is used is oil on canvas, transferred from wood....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
903 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Prehistoric Art: Devotional or Decorative?

- Prehistoric Art: Devotional or Decorative. For thousands of years human beings have created art. Whether it takes the form of pictures, sculptures, or other any other type of object, it has always been something thought to be particularly beautiful by the people of the culture that created it. However, for much of history these items were also meant to serve a practical purpose. From decorative bowls and clothing to illuminated manuscripts and illustrative murals, much early art was meant to serve a utilitarian as well as aesthetic purpose, feeding, clothing and educating those privileged enough to use it....   [tags: History Psychology Essays]

Strong Essays
912 words (2.6 pages)