Altar Figure of a Cockerel



Brass cockerels are placed on altars to Queen Mothers. As the first animal to greet the morning, the cockerel represents the senior position of an Oba's first wife over his other wives. An Oba’s first wife is generally expected to give birth to his heir and to become the next Queen Mother. The cockerel was originally purchased for the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1932 from Messrs Foster, an antiques dealer and auctioneer at 54 Pall Mall, London. The seller may have belonged to the family of a European participant in the British military conquest and looting of Benin in February 1897. The trustees of the Wellcome Collection presented the cockerel to the World Museum in 1949.