Benin-Style Bronze Figural Pipe Mouthpiece

Late 19th Century
$980 USD
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W: 4.5" D: 4.25" H: 18.0"
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World-renowned for high-quality lost wax casting, the city of Benin in West Africa has been a leading producer of fine cast brass and bronze sculptures since as early as the 16th century. Most Benin bronze objects were commissioned specifically for the ancestral altars of past obas (rulers) and Iyobas (queen mothers), as well as for rituals to honor ancestors and to validate the succession of new obas.

This unusual bronze sculpture exemplifies Benin-style metalwork and was likely cast in the late 19th century. The sculpture depicts the figure of a naked woman reclined in a seated position and smoking a pipe. A common subject in African folk art, female figures are typically understood as symbols of fertility, creativity, and wisdom. The figure is integrated into a hollow, narrow tube, suggesting this is actually the a mouthpiece to a large, ceremonial pipe. Despite the annexation of the Benin kingdom in 1897, the present day Yoruba people of Nigeria continue the traditional practices of Benin metalwork in fantastic sculptural objects such as this.

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Michael Thompson

b. 1951

Based in Chicago, IL, contemporary artist Michael Thompson creates unique kites, collages and mixed media works assembled from material fragments of past & present. 

His body of work spans across a range of art forms, from experimental postal art to paper collage to sculptures assembled from scrap metal and ceramic shards.

Regardless of the medium, each of Thompson’s works is layered with fragments of past lives and bygone memories, measured in the form of antique fabric remnants, printed ephemera and other found elements collected during his travels.



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