Benin Bronzes Analysis

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The Benin bronzes are a collection of commemorative Bronze plaques and sculptures that were used to decorate the royal palace in the old kingdom of Benin, located around what is now southern Nigeria, and inhabited by the Bini people from around the eleventh century CE. The extract, from 'Great Benin: Its Customs, Art and Horrors' by Henry Ling Roth (1903),will be discussed, along with the specified plates from the AA100 Illustration Book, in order to better understand how, over the last century, European attitudes towards the bronzes have changed. Initially objects of monetary significance which furthered imperial colonisation, attitudes have transformed over time into appreciating the artefacts for their cultural significance, not only aesthetically…show more content…
This reinforces the idea that European attitudes towards the bronzes in general were centred around the imperialist belief that 'native' civilisations were in need of colonisation and external government. He also shows discontent for the governments decision to sell the artefacts to the Germans thereby increasing their imperial superiority at the expense of their own. (Reading 2.3 in Loftus and Wood, 2008,…show more content…
His use of language such as 'civilised community' and 'called upon to govern' once again supposes European superiority over the African continent. (Reading 2.3 in Loftus and Wood, 2008, p.80) The primitive conception of anthropology presented in the above quote displays a complete lack of acknowledgement of the sociological, cultural and historical context provided by the artefacts and was often used to purport pseudo-scientific ideologies of inferior degenerative races. (Loftus and Wood, 2008, p.30) Today, in the twenty-first century, the idea of anthropology has moved on and focuses almost entirely on the historical and cultural significance of the artifacts. Plate 3.2.26 shows the plaques on display at the Horniman Museum in Britain. They are displayed individually, valuing each plaque for its cultural significance with its own display label depicting the corresponding narrative. This is important as it helps to immortalise the oral traditions of the Bini people, giving cultural identity back to the articles

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