Nigeria’s well-known Benin bronzes — artifacts stolen throughout British colonial rule and scattered world wide — have a brand new on-line archive that goals to turn out to be a digital report of the treasures.
Hundreds of steel plates, sculptures and objects from the sixteenth to 18th centuries had been looted from the traditional kingdom of Benin and ended up in museums and artwork collectors throughout the US and Europe. Many consultants name them the top of African artwork.
Whereas Nigeria is negotiating their return, Digital Benin supplies a centralized hub of photos and descriptions of greater than 5,000 artifacts held in 131 establishments worldwide.
“It is a distinctive, new chance to see all of the objects collectively and examine them,” stated Barbara Plankensteiner, director of the German museum MARKK and one of many founders of the undertaking.
“For analysis, it is actually useful for Nigerian students to have the ability to entry data that they could not entry earlier than.”
The undertaking, which started planning and researching two years in the past, was launched at an official occasion over the weekend in Benin Metropolis, within the southern Nigerian state of Edo, the heartland of the previous Benin Kingdom.
The platform incorporates an in depth assortment of artefact photos and particulars, sorted by object sort from collectible figurines to shields and ritual roosters.
It particulars all of the establishments that maintain artifacts, from the British Museum, with greater than 900 objects, to locations just like the Toledo Museum of Artwork, which has only one memorial statue of the Queen Mom’s head.
Readers also can navigate the story of the Kingdom of Benin, its royalty, its chiefs and festivals, with a particular part dedicated to oral historical past.
The undertaking comes on-line as a world drive to revive African artifacts from the previous colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany and Belgium grows.
Nigeria’s neighbor Benin earlier this 12 months inaugurated an exhibition of artworks and treasures returned by France after two years of negotiations.
These 26 items had been stolen in 1892 by French colonial forces from the capital of the previous Kingdom of Dahomey.
Germany is within the strategy of returning tons of of Benin bronze artifacts to Nigeria, the place a brand new museum is being in-built Benin Metropolis to deal with the artifacts.
Lots of the artifacts had been initially taken in 1897 when a British navy expedition attacked and destroyed Benin Metropolis, looting 1000’s of steel and ivory sculptures and carvings.
“These are our properties,” Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki stated at an occasion to inaugurate the platform. “They had been taken from us and ought to be returned to us.”
The Kingdom of Benin, which, regardless of its identify, was positioned in what’s now southwestern Nigeria, dates again to the primary century BC.
It expanded with navy conquests and commerce, which, with the arrival of Europeans within the sixteenth century, developed right into a commerce in slaves, ivory and spices.