Benin buh nihn
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Benin (buh·NIHN). Where?. Setting the Stage*. Civilizations on the upper southwest coast of Africa were influenced little by outside forces…why? Most people in the area focused on farming and agriculture as a means of living. Over time, these smaller communities formed into kingdoms.

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Benin (buh·NIHN)

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Benin buh nihn

Benin (buh·NIHN)


Where

Where?


Setting the stage

Setting the Stage*

Civilizations on the upper southwest coast of Africa were influenced little by outside forces…why?

Most people in the area focused on farming and agriculture as a means of living.

Over time, these smaller communities formed into kingdoms.

The first recorded kings of Benin appeared around 1200.


The king

The King*

  • Called the oba, or ruler, among the people.

  • The obas based their right to rule on claims of descent from the first king of Ife (EE·fay).

  • According to legend, the creator sent down this first ruler down to Earth at Ife, where he founded the first local state. His sons became rulers of other kingdoms.


Rise to power

Rise to Power

  • In the 1400’s the oba named Ewuare made Benin into a major West African state.*

  • He built a powerful army and used to control an area stretching from the Niger river delta to what is today Lagos, Nigeria.*

  • Marching against 201 towns and villages over the southern Nigeria region, he captured their leaders and compelled the masses to pay tribute.

  • Ewuare strengthened Benin City by building walls around it. Inside, broad streets were lined with neat rows of houses.*


Inside the city

Inside the City

  • The huge palace contained many courtyards and works of art.

  • Brass plaques on the walls and columns of the royal palace of the oba showed legends, historical scenes, and the deeds of the oba and his nobles.*

  • Benin artists, according to tradition, learned their craft from an Ife artist brought to Benin by the oba to teach them.*


European contact

European Contact*

  • In the 1480’s, Portuguese trading ships began to sail into Benin’s port at Gwatto.

  • The Portuguese traded with the Benin merchants for pepper, leopard skins, ivory, and enslaved persons.

  • This began several centuries of European interference in Africa, during which they enslaved Africans and seized African territories for colonies.


Slow decline

Slow Decline

  • Over the next three centuries Benin thrived as the Kingdom set up an extensive trading network with the Portuguese and later with other European nations.*

  • The latter years focused solely on trade of enslaved Africans to European powers.*

  • By the 19th century however the prosperity of the Benin Kingdom was under threat.

  • The British had begun to establish their colonial presence to the south, constant wars with the Yoruba states to the west, Islamic Jihads, as well as internal civil wars all conspired to weaken the Kingdom.*


The final blow

The Final Blow*

  • In 1897 the British declared themselves as protectorates of the Nigerian coast and insisted on trading on their terms with the Benin.

  • Oba Ovonramwen opposed the terms. When a British envoy visited the city the oba treated it as an act of war and killed the envoy.

  • Britain responded by sending over 10,000 soldiers to Benin, where they massacred many civilians and razed the city to the ground, in the process looting countless pieces of art and antiques.


Legacy

Legacy

  • Benin is famous for its bronze and brass sculptures.*

  • Benin sculpture guilds were controlled by the king.

  • What do you think the functions of the art were?


How they do it the lost wax process

How they do it…the Lost-Wax Process

  • 1) The artist forms a core of clay that is roughly the shape of the planned structure.

  • 2) The artist applies a layer of wax over the core, then carves fine details into the wax.

  • 3) A layer of fine clay is spread over the wax surface.

  • 4) Several layers of course clay are applied.

  • 5) The entire object is fired in a kiln. The clay hardens and the wax melts away, leaving a clay mold.

  • 6) Melted bronze is poured into the mold.

  • 7) The clay mold his broken off.


Do you think there something wrong with this statement

Do you think there something wrong with this statement?

“The kingdom of Benin offers a snapshot of a relatively well-organized and sophisticated African polity in operation before the major European colonial interlude.”

Osadolor, Osarhieme Benson, "The military system of Benin Kingdom, c. 1440–1897", (D) : Hamburg, Universität, Philosophie und Geschichtswissenschaft, 2001, pp. 4–264


Right now

Right now…

  • Take out a piece of paper.

  • Do you believe the Kingdom of Benin would still be in existence if the British had not razed it to the ground? Why or why not?

  • Homework: Who, what, when, where, why for Mali and Ghana.


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