Queen Mother Waist Pendant

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The Queen Mother waist pendant is believed to have been created in the early sixteenth century for the King also known as the “Oba” of the Benin court to honor his mother, Idia. It is suggested that the Oba wore the pendant at a ceremony commemorating his deceased mother (Preston-Biler 389). The material used to create the piece is Ivory, and as we know one of the aesthetic qualities associated with ivory is its white color. As is the case in many world cultures so too is that of the Benin people when it comes to the association of the color white with purity. Besides the aesthetic qualities of the material, the precious, and eminent qualities associated with the medium may for sure have something to do with the choosing of it to render the Queen Mother’s likeness; according to Preston-Biler, “the most highly valued of the African works collected during this period, however, where carvings made of ivory…” (376).…show more content…
At the top of the Queens head is a headpiece or Tiara depicting mudfish and the heads of Portuguese men, it is suggested that the mudfish are representational to the powers of the underworld or after life as they are associated in Benin culture with the sea and otherness. This is also true for the heads of the Portuguese men seen in the headdress as well. Both the mudfish and the heads of the Portuguese men display large hollowed out eyes socket, which give the viewer a sense that they are in fact looking back at you from the underworld. In the middle of the Queens forehead are two large vertical dashes that begin directly below the headdress and end between the brow of the sculpture. It is suggested that these dashes where originally inlaid with a precious

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