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The Bronze Head of Queen Idia is a commemorative bronze head from medieval Benin that probably represents Queen Idia, who was a powerful monarch during the early sixteenth century at the Benin court. Four cast bronze heads of the queen are known and are currently in the collections of the British Museum, the World Museum in Liverpool, the Nigerian National Museum in Lagos and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.
Bronze Head of Queen Idia
Queen Idia Discovery
Many Benin works of art entered the European art market after the Benin Expedition of 1897. The British Museum head was presented to the museum by Sir William Ingram in 1897.
Queen Idia played an instrumental role in her son’s successful military campaigns against neighboring tribes and factions. After her death, Oba Esigie ordered dedicatory heads of the queen to be made, to be placed in front of altars or in the Queen Mother’s palace. The heads were designed to honor her military achievements and ceremonial power.