Pendant Hip Mask


Pendant masks like this one are designed to be worn by court officials on the left hip at palace ceremonies. A coral bead necklace effect decorates the lower outline of the face and a beaded band also runs across the forehead. Only the Oba can wear pendant masks of this kind made in ivory. This brass hip ornament was donated to the museum in 1899 by John Henry Holland, who worked as an economic botanist at the colonial Botanic Station Old Calabar in Southern Nigeria from 1896 to 1901. Holland did not participate in the British military attack on Benin in 1897. He possibly acquired the brass hip mask from Dr Robert Allman, the Niger Coast Protectorate Chief Medical Officer, who had participated in the attack on Benin in 1897 and who took charge of the Botanic Station at Old Calabar when J H Holland travelled back to Britain from Nigeria in 1899.