Pendant Plaque


This U-shaped brass pendant may have been worn suspended from the waist by an important chief during ceremonial occasions, possibly one from the court of the Iyoba, or Queen Mother. It appears to show a high-ranking female attendant holding up a mirror charm. Mirror charms serve to protect Obas and Iyobas from hostile spiritual forces by deflecting such forces away. The frog motifs on either side of the central figure may also be protective symbols. Attendants holding up protective charms on either side of a queen mother figure are depicted on several brass altar pieces called aseberia that were made to be placed at the centre of shrines to Benin Iyobas. This pendant was purchased in April 1898 from Henry Ling Roth, curator of the Bankfield Museum in Halifax, who may have acquired it from his brother Dr Felix Roth. Dr Roth was surgeon to the Advance Guard with the British forces that attacked and looted Benin in February 1897.