Casket (Ethnology)


The lid of this brass casket shows the high-pitched roof of the Oba's palace as it may have looked before February 1897. The palace reportedly had a snake form running down its shingle roofed tower to signal the mystical powers of the Oba. This palace was described as a “marvel” by Dr Felix Roth (1903: xi), a surgeon with the troops of the British military expedition that looted Benin City. The palace was burnt down in a fire that spread rapidly through the city soon after its occupation by British troops in February 1897. The museum purchased this casket in 1898 from Henry Ling Roth, Dr Felix Roth’s brother. Felix N. Roth, A Diary of a Surgeon with the Benin Punitive Expedition. Appendix II in Henry Ling Roth (1903), Great Benin: Its Customs, Art and Horrors, Halifax: F. King & Sons Ltd.