Oba Eresoyen's Stool

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Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Oba Eresoyen's Stool, 18th century

40 x 40.5 cm (15 3/4 x 16 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 20295

Through time Benin’s rulers have used the arts to interpret history in an effort to support their initiatives and define their images for posterity. In the 18th century, Oba Eresoyen purposefully associated his reign with that of Oba Esigie, the great 16th-century monarch. Both ruled during periods of relative peace and were important patrons of brass casting. This richly embellished stool is modeled on one that was sent to Esigie by the Portuguese. The stool’s complex iconography includes images of the cosmos, the forest, and terrifying supernatural forces. The tools and products of metal workers—including a hammer, knife, and anvil—represent human civilization.