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Tunis, Irwin Leonard (1979) Origins, chronology and metallurgy of the Benin Wall bas-reliefs. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London.

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Abstract

The existing hypotheses of the origins and chronology of Benin art, particularly the bas-relief wall plaques are severely limited. It has been assumed, based on oral tradition, that cire-perdue casting was transferred from Ife to Benin during the rule of Oba Oguola (ca. 1280 or 1380). Analyses of the physical data from Ife and Benin show that such a transfer did not take place. It was suggested in 1965 that copper alloy casting probably came to Benin from a more northerly source astride the Niger-Benue confluence. A re-examination of the historical information, oral traditions, physical data, and the morphology of the 'Tsoede' bronzes with those previously labelled Benin and now called 'Lower Niger Industries' supports this speculation. The evidence also indicates that there were two Benin metal working traditions: the earlier or bronze period from Obas Oguola to Ewuare, and the later or brass period, which began in the reign of Esigie. I have shown that the wall reliefs are to be assigned to this second period.;Since there exists an internal consistency within Benin art I have used comparative techniques between the reliefs and full sculpture. Such a comparison indicates that the plaques must be divided into at least two periods. Period I: Esigie to Ozuere. Period II: Akenzua I to Osemwede (?). It is also shown that the plaques served more than one function.;Comparison of the chemical composition with known brasses show Benin materials to be very consistent with European alloys of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. Using alloy content and visual evidence an argument is presented that the type 5, Oba memorial heads (those-with winged caps and flanged bases), are incorrectly dated by about one century.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:28
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29735

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