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BENING HIP IVORY

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  • mateusen1
    Dear Members, You will find some photo s in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years:
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 14, 2009
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      Dear Members,
      You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1666237847/pic/list
      I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
      It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
      At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
      What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?

      As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.
    • Lee Rubinstein
      Gi: It is almost counter-intuitive given the prevalent bias against works that demonstrate obvious signs of culture contact -- especially European influence --
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 15, 2009
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        Gi:

        It is almost counter-intuitive given the prevalent bias against works that demonstrate obvious signs of culture contact -- especially European influence -- that such portrayals would be both accepted and celebrated within the realm of Western presentations of African art.  The early period in which this contact occurred, however, between the Portuguese and the Benin kingdoms (among other African locales) sets this instance apart from that which occurred in more recent historical epochs and makes its acceptance  unavoidable.   

        Portrayals of Portuguese individuals are indeed plentiful among Benin art works, particularly bronzes. It is worth noting that the famous 16th century pendant mask portraying Queen Mother Idia does indeed include visual references to the Portuguese.  The text which accompanies the image of the pendant mask on the Met site reads:  "The miniature motifs of Portuguese faces depicted along the summit make reference to the extraordinary wealth generated in the Benin kingdom in the sixteenth century through trade with the Portuguese. Since the Portuguese arrived by sea, generated local wealth, and have white skin, they were immediately connected to Olokun, god of the sea, who is associated with the color white. Additionally, Olokun is linked to purity, the world of the dead, and fertility. The mudfish motif, which alternates with the Portuguese faces and is one of the primary symbols of Benin kingship. It is associated with the qualities of agressiveness and liminality due to its ferocious electric sting and its ability to survive in water and on land."

        For comparison of the figure depicted on your "hip mask" or waist pendant plaque, see the striking similarities -- particularly of adornment --with Portuguese male figures portrayed on this 15-16th century ivory salt cellar in the Metropolitan:

        Also see this exquisite example below at the British Museum from the photos in the Werner Forman Archives*:
        *Free Registration required to search the database

        There is a more detailed description of the portrayal of a Portuguese man included in the text accompanying a small seated bronze figure that allows one to identify aspects for further study and analysis:  "Although the Portuguese were physically different and initially quite unfamiliar to Benin's artists, sculptural depictions such as this one are very much in keeping with the aesthetic criteria and conventions of Benin courtly arts. In this sculptural tradition, identity and social status were indicated through clothing and other personal accoutrements rather than by facial features, which were typically generalized and slightly abstracted. Like most Benin artists, the creator of this seated figure exaggerated those generic aspects of the European face he found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and luxurious moustache and beard... The high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered. 

        Perhaps the most interesting discussion of the symbolic significance of the Portuguese in Benin court art is this passage which integrates the economic and political importance of the Portuguese in the establishment and maintenance of power in the Benin kingdom and the way in which the arrival of these seafarers was integrated into traditional thought in the region:  "Portuguese merchants brought wealth to the kingdom in the form of overseas trade, and consequently were associated with Olokun, the god of the ocean who bestows prosperity on his adherents. The widespread use of Portuguese imagery in Benin courtly arts relates to worldly success attributed to divine guidance and protection. According to the Edo worldview, the realms of the living and dead are separated by a vast body of water. The trans-Atlantic movements of the Portuguese were conceived of as bridging these two distinct spheres of existence, and their images were employed as symbols for the communication with the supernatural that ancestral altars facilitated."   Source:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/beni_1/ho_1991.17.85.htm

        There are numerous resources available for further study of Benin art -- many of which have been referenced in previous discussions.  For further resources, search previous messages and Eli Bentor's extensive bibliography on Benin at http://webits3.appstate.edu/Eli/Africa/benin_bibliography.htm

        Here is a selection of published works with which to begin:

        Ben-Amos, Paula Girshick.  The Art of Benin. London: The British Museum Press, 1995.
        Ben-Amos, Paula and Arnold Rubin, eds. The Art of Power/The Power of Art:  Studies in Benin Iconography.  Los Angeles:  UCLA/Museum of Cultural History, 1983.
        Blier, Suzanne Preston. "Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese ca. 1492." Art Bulletin 75(3), 1993: pp. 375-396.
        Ezra, Kate.  Royal Art of Benin:  The Perls Collection.  New York:  Abrams/Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.
        Fagg, William. Afro-Portuguese Ivories. London: Batchworth Press, 1959.

        Lee


        On Sep 14, 2009, at 7:05 PM, mateusen1 wrote:

        Dear Members,
        You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/1666237847 /pic/list
        I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
        It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
        At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
        What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?

        As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.


      • Gi Mateusen
        Lee, Thanks for your rich answer with the illustrations and comments. There is still one question, is my piece from that periode , it¹s hard for me to
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 16, 2009
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          Re: [African_Arts] BENIN HIP IVORY Lee,
          Thanks for your rich answer with the illustrations and comments.  There is still one question, is my piece from that periode , it’s hard for me to estimate the age.
          --
          Gi Mateusen
          mobile: +.32.(0)477.300679
          E-mail: mateusen@...




          Van: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...>
          Beantwoorden - Aan: <African_Arts@yahoogroups.com>
          Datum: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 11:29:37 -0400
          Aan: <African_Arts@yahoogroups.com>
          Onderwerp: Re: [African_Arts] BENIN HIP IVORY

          Gi:

          It is almost counter-intuitive given the prevalent bias against works that demonstrate obvious signs of culture contact -- especially European influence -- that such portrayals would be both accepted and celebrated within the realm of Western presentations of African art.  The early period in which this contact occurred, however, between the Portuguese and the Benin kingdoms (among other African locales) sets this instance apart from that which occurred in more recent historical epochs and makes its acceptance  unavoidable.   

          Portrayals of Portuguese individuals are indeed plentiful among Benin art works, particularly bronzes. It is worth noting that the famous 16th century pendant mask portraying Queen Mother Idia does indeed include visual references to the Portuguese.  The text <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/08/sfg/ho_1978.412.323.htm>  which accompanies the image of the pendant mask on the Met site reads:  "The miniature motifs of Portuguese faces depicted along the summit make reference to the extraordinary wealth generated in the Benin kingdom in the sixteenth century through trade with the Portuguese. Since the Portuguese arrived by sea, generated local wealth, and have white skin, they were immediately connected to Olokun, god of the sea, who is associated with the color white. Additionally, Olokun is linked to purity, the world of the dead, and fertility. The mudfish motif, which alternates with the Portuguese faces and is one of the primary symbols of Benin kingship. It is associated with the qualities of agressiveness and liminality due to its ferocious electric sting and its ability to survive in water and on land."

          Sources: Met Museum <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/08/sfg/ho_1978.412.323.htm>  and Werner Forman Archive <http://wfa.glbx.image-data.com/index.jsp>

          For comparison of the figure depicted on your "hip mask" or waist pendant plaque, see the striking similarities -- particularly of adornment --with Portuguese male figures portrayed on this 15-16th century ivory salt cellar in the Metropolitan:

          http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/08/sfg/ho_1972.63a,b.htm

          Also see this exquisite example below at the British Museum from the photos in the Werner Forman Archives <http://wfa.glbx.image-data.com/index.jsp> *:
          *Free Registration required to search the database


          There is a more detailed description of the portrayal of a Portuguese man included in the text accompanying a small seated bronze figure that allows one to identify aspects for further study and analysis:  "Although the Portuguese were physically different and initially quite unfamiliar to Benin's artists, sculptural depictions such as this one are very much in keeping with the aesthetic criteria and conventions of Benin courtly arts. In this sculptural tradition, identity and social status were indicated through clothing and other personal accoutrements rather than by facial features, which were typically generalized and slightly abstracted. Like most Benin artists, the creator of this seated figure exaggerated those generic aspects of the European face he found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and luxurious moustache and beard... The high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered.

          http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aftr/ho_1991.17.31.htm

          Perhaps the most interesting discussion of the symbolic significance of the Portuguese in Benin court art is this passage which integrates the economic and political importance of the Portuguese in the establishment and maintenance of power in the Benin kingdom and the way in which the arrival of these seafarers was integrated into traditional thought in the region:  "Portuguese merchants brought wealth to the kingdom in the form of overseas trade, and consequently were associated with Olokun, the god of the ocean who bestows prosperity on his adherents. The widespread use of Portuguese imagery in Benin courtly arts relates to worldly success attributed to divine guidance and protection. According to the Edo worldview, the realms of the living and dead are separated by a vast body of water. The trans-Atlantic movements of the Portuguese were conceived of as bridging these two distinct spheres of existence, and their images were employed as symbols for the communication with the supernatural that ancestral altars facilitated."   Source:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/beni_1/ho_1991.17.85.htm

          There are numerous resources available for further study of Benin art -- many of which have been referenced in previous discussions.  For further resources, search previous messages and Eli Bentor's extensive bibliography on Benin at http://webits3.appstate.edu/Eli/Africa/benin_bibliography.htm

          Here is a selection of published works with which to begin:

          Ben-Amos, Paula Girshick.  The Art of Benin. London: The British Museum Press, 1995.
          Ben-Amos, Paula and Arnold Rubin, eds. The Art of Power/The Power of Art:  Studies in Benin Iconography.  Los Angeles:  UCLA/Museum of Cultural History, 1983.
          Blier, Suzanne Preston. "Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese ca. 1492." Art Bulletin 75(3), 1993: pp. 375-396.
          Ezra, Kate.  Royal Art of Benin:  The Perls Collection.  New York:  Abrams/Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.
          Fagg, William. Afro-Portuguese Ivories. London: Batchworth Press, 1959.

          Lee


          On Sep 14, 2009, at 7:05 PM, mateusen1 wrote:

          Dear Members,
          You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1666237847/pic/list
          I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
          It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
          At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
          What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?

          As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.



        • Paul DeLucco
          Gi,   It is difficult to appraise old ivory because much depends on the prevailing heat and humidity where it passed its years.  IN geneeral, old ivory is
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 17, 2009
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            Gi,
             
            It is difficult to appraise old ivory because much depends on the prevailing heat and humidity where it passed its years.  IN geneeral, old ivory is characterized by long, longitudinal cracks.
             
            The Congolese have practised treating ivory to make it look old.  The most successful technique was to wrap the ivory in damp leaves and bake it under hot coals.  If this techique is used carefully, they tell me that it will induce the long cracking in the ivory.  But if the coals are too hot, the figure not well wrapped, etc., the ivory will also crack in a cross-hatch pattern.
             
            The back of your plaque displays some cross-hatch cracking, enough to warrant closer investigation.  You might consider sending it to one of the labs that specialize in verification of age in organic objects.
             
            Regards,
             
            Paul DeLucco 
             


            --- On Wed, 9/16/09, Gi Mateusen <mateusen@...> wrote:

            From: Gi Mateusen <mateusen@...>
            Subject: Re: [African_Arts] BENIN HIP IVORY
            To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 7:16 PM

             
            Lee,
            Thanks for your rich answer with the illustrations and comments.  There is still one question, is my piece from that periode , it’s hard for me to estimate the age.
            --
            Gi Mateusen
            mobile: +..32.(0)477. 300679
            E-mail: mateusen@skynet. be




            Van: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@ mac.com>
            Beantwoorden - Aan: <African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com>
            Datum: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 11:29:37 -0400
            Aan: <African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com>
            Onderwerp: Re: [African_Arts] BENIN HIP IVORY

            Gi:

            It is almost counter-intuitive given the prevalent bias against works that demonstrate obvious signs of culture contact -- especially European influence -- that such portrayals would be both accepted and celebrated within the realm of Western presentations of African art.  The early period in which this contact occurred, however, between the Portuguese and the Benin kingdoms (among other African locales) sets this instance apart from that which occurred in more recent historical epochs and makes its acceptance  unavoidable.   

            Portrayals of Portuguese individuals are indeed plentiful among Benin art works, particularly bronzes. It is worth noting that the famous 16th century pendant mask portraying Queen Mother Idia does indeed include visual references to the Portuguese.  The text <http://www.metmuseu m.org/toah/ ho/08/sfg/ ho_1978.412. 323.htm>  which accompanies the image of the pendant mask on the Met site reads:  "The miniature motifs of Portuguese faces depicted along the summit make reference to the extraordinary wealth generated in the Benin kingdom in the sixteenth century through trade with the Portuguese. Since the Portuguese arrived by sea, generated local wealth, and have white skin, they were immediately connected to Olokun, god of the sea, who is associated with the color white. Additionally, Olokun is linked to purity, the world of the dead, and fertility. The mudfish motif, which alternates with the Portuguese faces and is one of the primary symbols of Benin kingship. It is associated with the qualities of agressiveness and liminality due to its ferocious electric sting and its ability to survive in water and on land."

            Sources: Met Museum <http://www.metmuseu m.org/toah/ ho/08/sfg/ ho_1978.412. 323.htm>  and Werner Forman Archive <http://wfa.glbx. image-data. com/index. jsp>

            For comparison of the figure depicted on your "hip mask" or waist pendant plaque, see the striking similarities -- particularly of adornment --with Portuguese male figures portrayed on this 15-16th century ivory salt cellar in the Metropolitan:

            http://www.metmuseu m.org/toah/ ho/08/sfg/ ho_1972.63a, b.htm

            Also see this exquisite example below at the British Museum from the photos in the Werner Forman Archives <http://wfa.glbx. image-data. com/index. jsp> *:
            *Free Registration required to search the database


            There is a more detailed description of the portrayal of a Portuguese man included in the text accompanying a small seated bronze figure that allows one to identify aspects for further study and analysis:  "Although the Portuguese were physically different and initially quite unfamiliar to Benin's artists, sculptural depictions such as this one are very much in keeping with the aesthetic criteria and conventions of Benin courtly arts. In this sculptural tradition, identity and social status were indicated through clothing and other personal accoutrements rather than by facial features, which were typically generalized and slightly abstracted. Like most Benin artists, the creator of this seated figure exaggerated those generic aspects of the European face he found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and luxurious moustache and beard... The high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered.

            http://www.metmuseu m.org/toah/ hd/aftr/ho_ 1991.17.31. htm

            Perhaps the most interesting discussion of the symbolic significance of the Portuguese in Benin court art is this passage which integrates the economic and political importance of the Portuguese in the establishment and maintenance of power in the Benin kingdom and the way in which the arrival of these seafarers was integrated into traditional thought in the region:  "Portuguese merchants brought wealth to the kingdom in the form of overseas trade, and consequently were associated with Olokun, the god of the ocean who bestows prosperity on his adherents. The widespread use of Portuguese imagery in Benin courtly arts relates to worldly success attributed to divine guidance and protection. According to the Edo worldview, the realms of the living and dead are separated by a vast body of water. The trans-Atlantic movements of the Portuguese were conceived of as bridging these two distinct spheres of existence, and their images were employed as symbols for the communication with the supernatural that ancestral altars facilitated."   Source:  http://www.metmuseu m.org/toah/ hd/beni_1/ ho_1991.17. 85.htm

            There are numerous resources available for further study of Benin art -- many of which have been referenced in previous discussions.  For further resources, search previous messages and Eli Bentor's extensive bibliography on Benin at http://webits3. appstate. edu/Eli/Africa/ benin_bibliograp hy.htm

            Here is a selection of published works with which to begin:

            Ben-Amos, Paula Girshick.  The Art of Benin. London: The British Museum Press, 1995.
            Ben-Amos, Paula and Arnold Rubin, eds. The Art of Power/The Power of Art:  Studies in Benin Iconography.  Los Angeles:  UCLA/Museum of Cultural History, 1983.
            Blier, Suzanne Preston. "Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese ca. 1492." Art Bulletin 75(3), 1993: pp. 375-396.
            Ezra, Kate.  Royal Art of Benin:  The Perls Collection.  New York:  Abrams/Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.
            Fagg, William. Afro-Portuguese Ivories. London: Batchworth Press, 1959.

            Lee


            On Sep 14, 2009, at 7:05 PM, mateusen1 wrote:

            Dear Members,
            You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/1666237847 /pic/list
            I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
            It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
            At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
            What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?

            As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.




          • houkura
            Hello..Did you ever find out more about the hip mask? It makes me very curious..
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 8, 2011
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              Hello..Did you ever find out more about the hip mask? It makes me very curious..




              --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "mateusen1" <mateusen@...> wrote:
              >
              > Dear Members,
              > You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1666237847/pic/list
              > I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
              > It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
              > At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
              > What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?
              >
              > As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.
              >
            • Gary Schulze
              The hip mask is in the style of the 15th-16th century Afro-Portuguese ivories. I ve never seen one of these before. If I were you I would take it to the
              Message 6 of 6 , Dec 8, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                The hip mask is in the style of the 15th-16th century Afro-Portuguese ivories. I've never seen one of these before. If I were you I would take it to the Metropolitan Museum and ask for an opinion.



                -----Original Message-----
                From: houkura <houkura@...>
                To: African_Arts <African_Arts@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 7:39 pm
                Subject: [African_Arts] Re: BENING HIP IVORY

                 
                Hello..Did you ever find out more about the hip mask? It makes me very curious..

                --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "mateusen1" <mateusen@...> wrote:
                >
                > Dear Members,
                > You will find some photo's in the album Benin Ivory from a hip ivory piece that I have since more than 20 years: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1666237847/pic/list
                > I know the classic hip masks but I never saw a mask with such a figure.
                > It looks like a Portugese warrior with beard and cross and western arms.
                > At the back side you can see the cracks of age and overall there are signs of use and small damages.
                > What's is your opinion about authenticy and age ?
                >
                > As I know the knowledge and experience of the forum I 'm looking aut for your reactions.
                >

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