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Significance of the Mudfish in the Benin culture

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sali dagandan

on 7 February 2014

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Transcript of Significance of the Mudfish in the Benin culture

Symbolism of the Mudfish
Prosperity, peace, and fertility
Animal who have the ability to overcome any problem
Oba's power over land and water because of the connection to Olokun, god of water, symbolizing Oba's semi-divine power between the spiritual world and the kingdom of Benin.
There are two types of mudfish: One can give a powerful electric shock that is often referred back to the Oba’s immense power over his enemies. Another one is known for their ability to survive on land as well as in the water and this ability is perfect for illustrating the Oba as a divine king who can be part of the human and spiritual realms.
Mudfish
European's Influence
Mudfish Legs
Significance of the Mudfish in the Benin culture
I See . . .
Tiny people on their knees in front of something holding some sort of fan
Mudfish coiled around a sun?
Men wearing some sort of accessories and some sort of headdress
Something with two arms
I Wonder . . .
What is it made of?
Who made it?
Why are they kneeling?
What kind of fan is he holding?
What is the accessories he's wearing? Does it hold any significance?
What is the container used for?
What's the symbolism of the mudfish?
Is the mudfish coiled to a sun or a person's face with an aura around it? What does it mean?
I Think that . . .
The container is carved in woods and royal objects in the palace are mostly made in wood.
He is holding an ezuzu which is a round leather fan used by Ewaure
There are eight people that includes the Oba and possible his queen and the other six appears to be courtiers
The Oba is dressed in a regal dress with a coral crown and neck covering as part of regalia illustrating his royal status. Royal coral beads are highly regarded because it determines who sits the throne and they 're the emblems of kingship. It is said that any proclamations or curses the Oba makes when holding them will come to pass. This also connects to the water god, Olokun, and the story of the Oba's wrestling match as well as the connection to trade and Olokun as the god of the seas and rivers.
It's probably used to put sacrificial offerings because of the depiction of the mudfish which is favored as sacrificial animals "capable of removing every obstruction from one's path," referring to their ability to overcome any problem.
These type of things are typically carved by the members of the Omada which is an association that was included in the Iweguae which was made up of the personal and domestic servants of the Oba or king.
The history of the Omada dated back to the mid-19th century and Omada members were free to invent forms and to portray historical scenes in their work.
Carved Wooden Container by Eobadia Wopund
Benin, Nigeria
circa 1900
I See . . .
Two mudfish coiled together
Flower designs
I Wonder . . .
What's the significance of two mudfish coiled together?
What's does the flowers symbolize?
Why is there a flower inside the mudfish?
I Think That . . .
The flowers reflect on Portuguese's influence in Benin as they try to spread their religion and as traders. The flower represents .......... and plaques were also brought by the Portuguese.
Coral beads, cloth and brass manilas for casting and the Benin people traded them with pepper, cloth and their art work.
I think the coiled mudfish suggests all-seeing power
Edo artist, Benin kingdom court style, Nigeria
Plaque
Mid-16th to 17th century
Copper alloy
Field Museum, Chicago
I See . . .
The Oba holding up weapons with two others
The Oba with mudfish legs
A tiny person on the right of the Oba's leg
A person on each leg of the stool with weapons
A coiled design connecting the legs
Some sort of barrel?
http://www.edo-nation.net/stewart1.htm
I Wonder . . .
What are the weapons the Oba and the other people are holding? or are they even a weapon?
Who is that tiny person next to the Oba?
Why does the Oba have mudfish for legs?
In what ways did he use this imagery to show his power?
What's the use of this stool?
What's the meaning of the coiled designs?
I Think That . . .
The tiny person is a dwarf which is kept at the court reflecting the "exotic" nature of the Oba's power
Those objects the Oba and the others are holding may represents to serve in ceremonial or commemorative purpose used in court rituals.
the mudfish legs symbolizes the Oba's ability to centralized his power between his rule over land and water
There's also another ancient Edo belief that the feet of the Oba carry so much force that they should never touch solid ground, as any contact would cause confusion and destruction from the depiction of two corcodile and mudfish carrying the Ohen across the water on an ivory tusks.
At the age of 20, Oba Ohen's legs became paralyzed. In the myth, he was really close with Olokun and supposedly had mudfish for legs. His spirit came on land from Olokun's kingdom so that he could rule as Oba, Lord of the Land.
Stool: Oba with Mudfish Legs (Agba)
Date: 19th century Geography: Nigeria, Court of Benin Culture: Edo peoples Medium: Wood, metal tacks Classification: Wood-Furniture
Resources:

http://www.michaelbackmanltd.com/1935.html
http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/earthmatters/underground.html
http://classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com/912/flashcards/2369912/jpg/108f033361354756158016.jpg

http://www.grittonarts.org/art263/images/fishstool.jpg
http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/316532?img=0
http://library.uco.edu/archives/artworks/African2ndfloor/AfricanSecondFloorInteractive62.html
http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/benin.html
http://academic.csuohio.edu/curnowk/curnowk/html/aronson.html
Duchâteau, Armand. "The Art of Benin and Its Symbolism." Benin: Royal Art of Africa from the Museum Für Völkerkunde, Vienna. Munich: London, 1994. 71-73. Print
"Brass Plaque Showing the Oba of Benin with Attendants." Brass Plaque of the Oba. The British Museum, n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.
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