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Overall: 36 x 59.8 x 21.6 cm (14 3/16 x 23 9/16 x 8 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Ralph M. Coe in memory of Ralph M. Coe 1965.323.2
This lion, in the style of the Donvidé School founded by Aqueminon Donvidé in 1909, was created for the royal family at Abomey as well as for French colonial officials and foreign visitors. Rulers of the powerful Fon kingdom of Dahomey possesed objects that glorified their military might and spiritual power. Each object had visual symbols or crests recalling a praise or "strong name" of its owner. Powerful lions with full manes, symbolic of the nineteenth-century king Glele, were borrowed from European heraldry sources since no lions existed in this part of West Africa. Metaphorically, the lions alluded to Glele's victories over his enemies.
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