L. Portuguese soldier with a Gun R. Gunman from Throne of Sultan Njoya
19th c African (West) Benin Kingdom Sculpture
L. Benin Kingdom. Nigeria. R. Sultanate of Bamun. Cameroons.
L. London. Museum of Mankind.R. Berlin. Statlichenmuseum.
We can look at the Portuguese soldier with a gun shown on the left both from the point of view of its stylistic influence on Benin art as well as from the effect of guns on Africans. The crouching, twisting form is quite different from the rigid frontality of traditional African art, and was most likely based upon a European prototype. Details of his armor and helmet are carefully delineated, and the gun clearly interested the artist.The style of the figure on the right is quite traditional. The artist has, however, supplemented traditional cowry shells with European beads, most likely from Venice. The function as guardian of the king's stool is clearly strengthened by the gun that he holds. From an early time Europeans traded firearms as well as salt, cloth and brass vessels. introduction of western firearms into Africa resulted in more deadly strife between various groups and in most cases lead to domination by those who most effectively mastered the new weapons.
BENIN KINGDOM | L. Portuguese soldier with a Gun R. Gunman from Throne of Sultan Njoya | c. 1800-1899 | African | Benin