The Benin Pendant Mask

Historical Context

This Ivory face mask from the British Museum is one of several that survive depicting the Edo queen mother Idia, mother of Esigie, ruler of the 16th century Edo people and the Benin empire (modern Nigeria).

This mask and others were looted from the royal palace in Benin City in 1897 by the British expedition whose attack brought down the Benin Empire, a major power in the region since the 11th century AD.

This example, acquired by the British Museum in 1910, is perhaps the most famous, it served as a the emblem for the 1977 FESTAC pan African festival and has been featured on a Nigerian banknote.

Artifact Info


Date taken: February 9, 1897
Location: Benin City, Kingdom of Benin

Source: British Museum

Related Events

  • 1897-02-09 Invasion of Benin City by British Expedition force, the city is burnt and looted, marks the end of Nigerian Kingdom of Benin formed in the 11th century

Historical Artifacts