Plaque of a Palace Interior

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Benin Kingdom, Nigeria

Plaque of a Palace Interior, 16th/17th century

52 x 40 cm (20 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, III C 8377

This plaque beautifully illustrates details of the oba’s palace, including its wood roof shingles attached with nails; a brass snake, cast in sections, running down its turret; and the pillars lined with pairs of brass plaques, each portrayed here as depicting a Portuguese face. The scene may represent a gate of entry or a passage between inner courtyards. Turrets are known to have marked such transitional points within the large palace complex. However, the leopards (now damaged) that stand on either side of the doorway may indicate that it is the entrance to a royal altar.