Benin Bronze Artists and Lost-Wax Casting Today there is a West African nation of Benin, but the medieval Benin Kingdom of the Edo people, the creators of the famous Benin bronzes, was in what is now the neighboring country of Nigeria. Benin’s bronzes are varied in size, subject matter, and artistic styles. The bronzes are not even made exclusively of bronze, which is an alloy, or mixture, of copper and tin. Some are made from brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. The plaques and sculptures adorned the walls of the ruler, or Oba of Benin. The Benin Kingdom lasted from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. In 1897 a British expedition traveled to the Kingdom of Benin. Although the expedition was warned not to try to enter Benin’s royal city while ceremonies were under way, the group continued and was attacked by royal warriors, with only two Europeans surviving the conflict. In retaliation,

Europeans invaded the city, destroying the palace and seizing artwork, including sculptures of kings, queens, African wild- life, and high-relief plaques. More than 2,400 of the Benin bronzes were trans- ported away from Af- rica. Today, only about 50 of the sculptures remain in Africa; the majority are in Euro- pean and American art collections. Most of the bronze plaques are done in the style of high relief,

A Benin bronze of Benin warriors.

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