Bell; Ero



Cast brass bells are used in Southern Nigeria to draw the attention of ancestral spirits or announce their presence. The characteristically square-based brass bells from Benin, like this one, are usually placed at the front of ancestral altars. The Oba rings a brass bell when making offerings at a royal altar to call the spirit of his ancestor to accept the offerings. Edo soldiers wore similar bells during campaigns to invoke protection from the spirit world. This bell bears the relief image of a cross on one side, suggesting the influence of early European contacts with the Edo Kingdom. This bell was purchased for the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1927 as part of the Nevins collection. Mr Hugh Nevin Nevins served as a District Officer for Benin Division in the 1920s and acquired his collection of Edo tools and artworks during his posting in Benin City. The trustees of the Wellcome Collection presented the bell to the World Museum via the British Museum in 1949.