Benin Bronze Leopard Head
Approx Age: Mid – Later 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 26 long x 19 wide
Ref. Number: 0294
This beautiful Benin bronze leopard head is an attractive piece of African craftmanship. It has a little deterioration on the back of the head but does not detract from the true beauty. Showing good markings and well cast, being cast using the process known as ‘ lost wax’.
Bronze leopard heads, a royal icon, were often worn as hip or waist ornaments by chiefs of all ranks, the king’s were of ivory.
The art of Benin is the product of an urban royal court, and is meant to symbolize and to extol the power, mystique, grandeur, continuity, and endurance of the ruling dynasty. The Kingdom of Benin was ruled by the Oba, a divine leader at the head of the political system. As the office of the Oba became increasingly ceremonial, the art produced evolved into an instrument of the state. This charming bronze sculpture takes the form of a leopard’s head, replete with whiskers and pointed fangs. Big cats have traditionally symbolized political power and authoritative rule from the jungles of Mesoamerica to the deserts of the Middle East. Much as jaguars and lions dominate their respective terrains, likewise the king, who associates himself with these great beasts, rules his kingdom without challenge.
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