This brass flute is a traditional flute used by Benin royalty for hundreds of years. Ivory and bronze flutes are symbols of divine kingship. They are also used to announce kings and chiefs in public ceremonies or when a chief might visit the king.
This small but detailed piece shows the level of chief associated with this flute. Notice the beadwork around the neck and symbols of authority held in his hands, denoting a senior chief. Along the middle of the casting are two ceremonial swords like those used by kings and chiefs in most cultures in S.W. Nigeria, including the Benin and Yoruba.
The flute is freestanding, is 11.5 inches tall, by 2.5 wide, and weighs about 1.5 pounds.
All of the detailed patterning, facial expression, costuming, and ceremonial objects are made of wax, and dissolved as part of the lost wax process. Because of this there are never two exactly alike.
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