Palace Sculptures of Abomey: History Told on Walls

Overview


The Fon, who are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Benin in West Africa, established the powerful kingdom of Dahomey in the early seventeenth century. In their capital city of Abomey, they built a remarkable complex of palaces, featuring walls decorated with colorful low-relief sculptures, or bas-reliefs, which recount legends and battles and glorify the history of their royal dynasty's reign. Over the centuries, these visual stories have represented and perpetuated ...
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Overview


The Fon, who are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Benin in West Africa, established the powerful kingdom of Dahomey in the early seventeenth century. In their capital city of Abomey, they built a remarkable complex of palaces, featuring walls decorated with colorful low-relief sculptures, or bas-reliefs, which recount legends and battles and glorify the history of their royal dynasty's reign. Over the centuries, these visual stories have represented and perpetuated the history and myths of the Fon people.
Palace Sculptures of Abomey combines lavish color photographs of the bas-reliefs with a lively history of the Dahomey kingdom, complemented by period drawings, rare historical photographs, and colorful textile art. The book provides a vivid portrait of these exceptional narrative sculptures and the equally remarkable people who crafted them. Also included is a discussion of the continuing popularity of bas-reliefs in contemporary West African art, a reading of the stories on the walls, and details of the four-year collaboration between the Benin Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Getty Conservation Institute to conserve the bas-reliefs of Abomey.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Fon people of the Republic of Benin in West Africa were a powerful cultural and military force in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their kings reigned from elaborate earthen palaces decorated with brightly colored bas-reliefs that expressed the power and achievements of the rulers through allegorical and symbolic imagery. The government of Benin, together with the Getty Conservation Institute, is endeavoring to preserve those historically important sculptures. This book provides background information on Fon culture and history, the kingship system and the role of the palaces, and explication of the significance and meaning of the reliefs, as well as a section on the continuing conservation efforts. This volume is not intended as a catalog raisonn of the reliefs; rather, it is a richly illustrated introductory survey accessible to both the general reader and the scholarly specialist. Recommended to any library with an interest in art or African studies.--Eugene C. Burt, Seattle Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892365692
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Series: Conservation and Cultural Heritage Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 120
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Francesca Piqué is a conservation specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. Leslie Rainer is a conservation consultant.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Kingdom of Dahomey 7
Warrior Kings 25
The Abomey Royal Palaces 33
Bas-Relief Art 47
Reading the Walls 57
Conserving the Bas-Reliefs 77
The Historic Museum of Abomey 95
A Living Tradition 105
Suggested Reading 114
Acknowledgments 116
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