Bracelet or Armlet


This ivory bracelet is remarkable for the highly stylized heads of Portuguese men carved on it. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade with the Edo Kingdom when they arrived in 1484. Portuguese traders rarely visited Benin after 1550, but Portuguese figures in sixteenth-century dress continued to be depicted in Edo court art to stand for Europeans in general and for sources of wealth and power that the Oba acquired from across the ocean through foreign trade. This bracelet was purchased in October 1897 from A. Hewer who was probably a dealer.