Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Rooster

Date:
18th century (?)
Geography:
Nigeria, Court of Benin
Culture:
Edo peoples
Medium:
Brass
Dimensions:
H. 19 7/8 x W. 7 3/8 x D. 15 in. (50.5 x 18.8 x 38.1 cm)
Classification:
Metal-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 1991
Accession Number:
1991.17.54
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
Brass roosters are placed on ancestral altars commemorating the queen mothers of Benin. They stand for fowl and other animals that are sacrificed during rituals honoring royal ancestors. These explicitly male creatures acknowledge that the queen mother is different from other women and shares many powers and privileges with men. In depicting these birds, Benin brass casters indulge their love of dense overall patterns. Although stylized, these incised designs deftly suggest the rooster's showy plumage, scaly legs, and dimpled comb.
Jack Whitehead, UK, collected in Benin,1897; (Sotheby Parke-Bernet and Co., London, December 2, 1980); [Merton D. Simpson, New York, acquired by 1981]; [Entwistle Gallery, London, by 1985–after 1986]; Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, New York, until 1991

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