Hen

Hen

1900s

Wood

Overall: 47.6 cm (18 3/4 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1973.221

Location

Description

Materials used for ritual objects correspond with the status of their owner, or the person it was dedicated to. Men have cast brass roosters, while women have carved wooden hens like this. This egg-shaped bird is covered with patterns formed by parallel lines indicating the bird’s feathers, from fluffy tufts to sleek plumage. Realistically carved, it replicates an animal that would be sacrificed on a woman’s shrine. On an ancestral altar, it sat alongside other objects like rattle staffs. While Benin is patriarchal (men and their male sons lead), women are important; men cannot succeed spiritually or politically without them.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Wood

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