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STATUE REPRESENTING KING GLELE


FON (Benin)
H : 105 cm.
Brass
Musée Dapper - Paris


For once, we know the name of the artist: Huntondji Ganhu, blacksmith to King Glele who passed order for this tall statue of astonishing presence some time before 1889. The king is portrayed nude except for a kind of singlet bunched up under the arms. The extreme stylisation of the limbs sets off the face with its accentuated geometric forms: protruding lower jaw, turned-up nose, fineness of the facial lines, all of which correspond to the description left by the explorer, Richard Burton, who saw the king towards 1863. The opened mouth revealing menacing teeth, like the silver lion, the brandished ritual sabres or "gubashas", recall that the monarch was also a warrior who had to fight hard against the Yorubas to ensure the independence of his kingdom. The metal used for the statue is said to have originated from used rifle bullets.



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