Fan card

Fan

9.7.95.7

Currently not on display

Information

Fans like this would have been made by the leatherworkers’ guild, Isekpokin, which had its own ward in Benin City. The cow or antelope hide is decorated with appliqué designs in red cloth stitched onto the leather. In the past the leatherworkers made many items for the court including the leather kilts shown on many of the cast brass figures taken from the palace altars. The four-leaved floral cross designs on this fan are a commonly repeated decorative element in Benin arts and feature as linear decorations on some brass plaques. At palace ceremonies servants cool the Oba and titled chiefs with fans like this one to help reduce the heat of their heavy costumes. The steam ship engineer Arnold Ridyard is recorded as having acquired this fan at an un-named place on the Niger River. He donated it to the museum in July 1895.