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A Pair of Gold Weights - Stylised, Fon Bronze Figures being attacked by Leopards, Benin, Early 20th Century

A Pair of Gold Weights - Stylised, Fon Bronze Figures being attacked by Leopards, Benin, Early 20th Century
A Pair of Gold Weights - Stylised, Fon Bronze Figures being attacked by Leopards, Benin, Early 20th Century

Description/Condition

Fig. 1. Length: 11 ½ cm (4 ½ inches). Fig. 1. Height: 9 ¾ cm (3 ¾ inches). Fig. 2. Length: 11 ½ cm (4 ½ inches). Fig. 2. Height: 9 ¾ cm (3 ¾ inches). Material: Bronze. Origin: Fon People, Kingdom of Dahomey (Republic of Benin). Date: Early 20th Century.

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Detailed Information

Item No: A22332
About this item:

Fig. 1. Length: 11 ½ cm (4 ½ inches)
Fig. 1. Height: 9 ¾ cm (3 ¾ inches)
Fig. 2. Length: 11 ½ cm (4 ½ inches)
Fig. 2. Height: 9 ¾ cm (3 ¾ inches)
Material: Bronze
Origin: Fon People, Kingdom of Dahomey (Republic of Benin)
Date: Early 20th Century

Photographed and offered for sale is this wonderful pair of figural cast bonzes from the Fon People of what is now the Republic of Benin. The pieces date from the first half of the 20th century, and are wonderfully idiosyncratic and comical notwithstanding the subject matter. The charming naivety only serves to enhance the superior ability of these artists to inject such tangible feeling into their work, and this group is no exception.

Gold was once central to the economy amongst West African tribes-people and commercial transactions relied upon measurement of gold and gold dust. These brass weights would have been used to measure out exact quantities of gold dust to pay for particular goods or services. The leopard was once the emblem of power for the exclusive use of the oba or king of Benin, representing triumph of people over the wild.

The Kingdom of Dahomey became the Republic of Dahomey in 1958 and in 1975 The People’s Republic of Benin.
According to an old legend it was created by the daughter of the King from Tado, who came to the forest in search for water and happened to meet the leopards spirit. From their alliance emanated Agasu, the ancestor of all Fon people. Agasus descendants founded the sacred city of "ALLADA"