BENIN ART — History and Origin of Benin Art

BENIN ART— History and Origin of Benin Art

Benin Art originated from the powerful ancient Benin kingdom ,located in the south-south region of Nigeria. Benin Art is also known as Court Art because it was discovered at the king’s palace and majorly produced for the court of the oba of Benin(the supreme ruler of Benin kingdom who ordered for a range of ceremonial objects). 

It is (Benin /Art) majorly composed of bronze, Ivory and wood.They are highly decorative and majorly royal works. These works of art are of great significance to the Benin people; especially for historical references and as ritual objects. This topic will be further explains under the following headings for easy reading;

Benin Art
Benin Art Ivory Mask


  • Location
  • Area of discovery
  • Media
  • Dating
  • Characteristics
  • Aesthetic principles

Recommended; Benin City Postal/Zip Codes



The Art originated from the powerful ancient Benin kingdom ,Benin city, Edo state, Nigeria.

Area of discovery

It was first discovered in 1897 at the king’s palace , when British Soldiers conquered and gained access to the palace of oba Ovoranwen.


It is majorly composed of cast bronze, carved ivory and wood.


It can be dated back to the 14th—15th century.


Characteristics of Benin Art

  • Beaded Neck
  • Mark on fore head
  • Semi naturalistic
  • It is the only art culture that has ivory
  • Mostly royal figures
  • Highly decorative


Aesthetic principles

1. Triadic Symmetry : tridiac art appears as two figures flanking a central figure on a carved ivory tusk in the royal arts.

2. Frontality: Figures appear frontally with feet firmly plaited and their torsos and heads facing the viewer directly.

3. Alteration: This refers to patterns on ivory saltcellars that alternate figures and animals surrounding the object .

4. Decoration In the round: Ivory tusks and saltcellars serve as examples of Benin artists’ preference for decoration in the round.


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