Ewua Official

Email to a friend
Print this page

Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Ewua Official, 18th century (?)

62 x 20 x 17 cm (24 3/8 x 7 7/8 x 6 11/16 in.)
© The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, A1985.631

This figure wears a beautifully patterned tunic and wrapper and a cross-shaped pendant low on his chest. In his right hand, he carries a brass-caster’s hammer, a tool used to manipulate red-hot metal. The man may be an ewua official, whose tasks include awakening the oba at dawn with rituals honoring his dynasty and its origins, a practice initiated by Oba Esigie in the 16th century. Ewua officials are often portrayed wearing a cross, a symbol that predates the Portuguese arrival in Benin, though its meaning was enhanced by its similarity to the cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ.

This image is provided through the generosity of the National Museums of Scotland (NMS). Any form of reproduction, transmission, performance, display, rental, lending, or storage in any retrieval system without the written consent of the copyright holders is strictly prohibited. Downloading images is strictly prohibited, except for private study. Downloading images for commercial purposes will be treated as a serious breach of copyright and strong legal action will be taken by NMS.