Skip Navigation

Figure of a Hornblower (Ikpakohẹn)

Arts of Africa

History is about power, and its depiction is a consequential act. These two works—a technically refined casting of precious materials for a powerful monarch, and a group of movable wood figures celebrating a new democratic era—commemorate specific important moments in the political histories of their respective societies.

The Edo figure glorifies the spirit of a deceased king, or oba, who ruled the kingdom of Benin at the height of its power. A motif on the figure's kilt depicting an elephant, whose trunk ends in a human right hand, identifies this work with the reign of the oba Esigie, who ruled from 1504 to 1550.

Johannes Segogela's sculpture addresses the South African transition from the armed liberation struggle against whites-only apartheid rule into the new democratic era, born the following year with the multiracial elections that swept Nelson Mandela to power. The work suggests the need for South Africans to cast their weapons into the furnace.
MEDIUM Copper alloy, iron
DATES ca. 1504–50
DIMENSIONS 24 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 6 in. (62.2 x 21.6 x 15.2 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS "16" written in black on back of figure
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
PROVENANCE Until at least 1897, Benin Kingdom; 1897, probably taken from the Royal Palace during the British military raid and occupation of Benin City by an unidentified British agent; between 1897 and 1950, provenance not yet documented; before 1950, acquired by Sydney Burney of London, United Kingdom; by 1950, collection of Sydney Burney and John Hunt of Killmallock, Ireland (owned jointly); April 17, 1950, purchased at Sotheby’s London as “Property of a Gentleman”, Lot 137, by Alastair Bradley Martin of New York, NY; 1950, loaned by Alastair Bradley Martin and Edith Park Martin (Mrs. Alastair Bradley Martin) to the Brooklyn Museum; 1955, gift of Alastair Bradley Martin and Edith Park Martin to the Brooklyn Museum.
Provenance FAQ
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Blowing a horn or flute with his right hand, his left arm is truncated. He wears a netted cap with chevron design decorated with a feather. Around his neck are two collars: one of coral, the other of cowrie shells and teeth. He wears a kind of vest decorated with an interlocking design and supported by a strap around his neck. This is attached at the waist to a skirt which is drawn up at the side in a point. A belt is tied in a knot around the waist, and a lower belt with tassels connecting the skirt at the back. The over-skirt has a pattern of human faces, leopard faces, arms, half-moons, and other leaf forms. He wears five bracelets on his right hand. There is an undershirt exposed on the left side which has an interlocking design. The lower border of the outfit has a guilloche pattern.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Edo. Figure of a Hornblower (Ikpakohẹn), ca. 1504–50. Copper alloy, iron, 24 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 6 in. (62.2 x 21.6 x 15.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 55.87. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 55.87_overall_PS11.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 55.87_overall_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2021
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.