An ivory pendant carved in high relief in... - Lot 111 - Pierre Bergé & Associés

Lot 111
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20000 - 30000 EUR
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Result : 36 400EUR
An ivory pendant carved in high relief in... - Lot 111 - Pierre Bergé & Associés
An ivory pendant carved in high relief in the form of a shield with a young girl holding the handle of a sword (?) slung over her shoulder with her right hand and holding a mirror in her raised left hand. She wears a headdress made of pearls (which were coral) with side pendants of four rows of pearls framing the face and a high necklace also made of coral pearls; her wrists and ankles are encircled by five bracelets and her naked body, marked with scarification marks, is adorned at the waist with a belt of pearls; the vertical edges of the plate bear snakes on each side; the circumference is bordered by openwork festoons; ring fixed by a peg to the reverse of the head.
Nigeria, Kingdom of Benin, Edo people, second half of the 17th/beginning of the 18th century Height : 15,5 cm - Width : 11 cm - Weight : 232 g (small accidents to the feet and missing scalloped rings on the lower part)
Provenance : bought in a public sale in the West of England.
A report of analysis by the carbon 14 method carried out by the CIRAM Laboratory dated February 11, 2021 will be given to the buyer (n° 0121-OA-55Z-1). It concludes that the ivory was dated between 1639 and 1807 (36.6% for the period 1639 - 1688, 50.6% for the period 1730 - 1807) with a probability of 95.4%.
As this object does not belong to a French resident, its removal from the country is not subject to obtaining an export certificate for a cultural object.
Books consulted: Exhibition Paris 2008, Ivoires d'Afrique, musée du quai Branly, cat. Exhibitions Vienna - Paris - Berlin - Chicago 2007/2008, Benin - Five Centuries of Royal Art, Museum für Völkerkunde - Musée du quai Branly - Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen - The Art Institute of Chicago, cat.
Very rare are these types of pendants made of ivory and very few have survived to the present day, thus only five are known in the world. Much more numerous are those made of bronze. These ornaments were used to fix the knot of the rolled up cloth that encircled the hips of the king or those of certain members of his family, dignitaries of the court or high officials of the kingdom. It appears that only the king wore the ivory ornaments during certain celebrations.
Although slightly smaller, this pendant is very comparable to one in the Museum of Art in Boston, which is also decorated with a female figure identified as the queen mother, Iyoba, mother of the reigning king and the only woman with rank and authority in the Beninese court. She is shown striking a double hinge, in the image of rituals during celebrations (inv. L-G 7.5.2012, fig.). Another one in the Dallas Museum of Art, with a more complex composition, represents the Oba, king of the Benin kingdom, between two high court officials (inv. 1994.201.McD., fig. b). Here, it seems to be a representation of a young girl living in the Oba's palace. Wearing many ornaments, she is naked, except for a circle of pearls around her hips, thus displaying her virginity through her lack of clothing. In her left hand she holds a "mirror amulet" intended to protect the King and Queen Mother by deflecting hostile spiritual energies. It is likely that bells were suspended from the rings around these decorative plates, as can be seen on bronze examples.
Founded around the year 900, the kingdom of Benin grew in the 15th century to an area equivalent to that of New England, with more than two million subjects. It is at the origin of a particularly refined art, essentially in the field of metal casting and ivory carving. Thus there was the royal guild of bronze founders (Igun Eronmwon), with a perfect command of lost-wax casting, which produced a number of objects and sculptures (ornamental plates, figurative subjects, gongs, altars, bells, etc.), and the royal guild of bronze founders (Igun Eronmwon), with a perfect command of lost-wax casting.), and the royal guild of ivory workers (Igbesanmwan), working mainly for the sovereign, who have left us a wide variety of objects (saltcellars, oliphants, cutlery, boxes, armbands, pendants ...) and that the European courts have collected since the Renaissance.
Appeared among other objects in a small sale in England, this pendant had lost all identity. In the case of inheritance, it still happens that objects are found in lots, made anonymous by the disinterest of the descendants of the first owner. It is possible that this interesting ivory pendant - like many objects in European collections
- was part of the spoils of the royal palace of Benin after the 1897 conquest of the kingdom by Admiral
Sir Harry Rawson. According to the Barber Institute, more than 2,500 objects were sent to England, of which about 40 percent were acquired by the British Museum. "Some of the works were acquired by the British Museum.
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