Double Bell (Ẹgogo)
Arts of Africa
This is one of the oldest surviving African ivory sculptures; only six of these ivory gongs are known. Double gongs were used by the oba (king) during the Emobo ceremony to drive away evil spirits. The carving here depicts the oba, supported by his military commander and his heir.
early 16th century
14 1/8 × 3 15/16 × 2 9/16 in. (35.8 × 10 × 6.5 cm)
Written in black ink on inside of bell: "BENIN. BT. OF MR H. LING ROTH. 1898."; written in red ink on inside of bell: "58.160"
A. Augustus Healy Fund and Frank L. Babbott Fund
Until 1897, Benin Kingdom; 1897, taken from the Royal Palace during the British military raid and occupation of Benin City by Dr. Felix Norman Roth; 1898, collection of Henry Ling Roth of Halifax, United Kingdom; October 2, 1898, purchased from Henry Ling Roth by Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers of Dorset, United Kingdom; 1898-1958, collection of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Dorset, United Kingdom; 1958, purchased from the Pitt-Rivers Museum by Mathais Komor, New York, NY; October 8, 1958, purchased from Mathias Komor by the Brooklyn Museum.
Two bell forms on a long handle; large bell carved with 3 figures: chief standing with arms upheld by attendants; background is elaborately carved with curved interlocking pattern, small bells or facsimiles of same run-up sides of sisturn and along top; one side of top has projecting human figure, on top of small bell is an alligator head holding a human hand. Base is geometrically carved. Large bell originally showed mudfish figure and snake-wing bird.
This item is not on view
Edo. Double Bell (Ẹgogo), early 16th century. Ivory, 14 1/8 × 3 15/16 × 2 9/16 in. (35.8 × 10 × 6.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund and Frank L. Babbott Fund, 58.160. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 58.160_SL1.jpg)
overall, 58.160_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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How did they discover this?
Many pieces from Benin were acquired by colonial powers, so Britain or France. In later times, people would often travel to collect objects for Museums or to sell in European art markets. After leaving Nigeria this work first belonged to a Doctor in London (from 1897-98) and eventually made its way to the Brooklyn Museum in 1958.
The Edo, who currently live in Nigeria and Benin, trace their ancestry to the Kingdom of Benin, which was a powerful state back during the 15th and 16th century.
Was there resistance from the local communities about this?
In some cases. Many objects did leave after Europeans started their colonies. In other cases, things would be sold by the communities if they were no longer of use.