1909.61.1

Miniature brass imitation of stone axe (thunderbolt emblem).

Place details: AFRICA. Nigeria / Benin. Cultural Group: Edo Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Brass Metal / ?. Processes: Lost Wax Cast / ?. Dimensions: L = 25 mm Field Collector: William John Ansorge When Collected: By 1909; possibly 1897 Other Owners: William John Ansorge PRM Source: William Downing Webster Acquired: Purchased November 1909

KEYWORD: Amulet / Axe / CLASS: Religion / Tool / Weapon / ?.

Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated by a line-drawing (by Henry Balfour) as Figure 11 in Plate II (facing page 170) in ‘Concerning Thunderbolts (Continued)’, by H[enry]. Balfour, in Folk-Lore, Vol. 40, no. 2 (30 June 1929), pp. 168–72. Caption (page 170) for Figures 10–14: ‘Figs. 10–14—Small bronze pendants in the form of miniature neolithic celts, with perforations for suspension. Benin, Nigeria. These appear to have been cast by the cire perdue process. 10 [1909.61.7] is exactly modelled upon the almond-shaped stone celt type with strongly convex surfaces; the double zigzag design may, perhaps, symbolise lighning. 11 [1909.61.1] is of flatter shape and undecorated. 12 [1909.61.3] has flat surfaces and squared margins. 13 [1909.61.4] has facetted margins and is embellished with a chopper-like design. 14 [1909.61.6] has the design in relief and the squared lateral margins are transversely grooved. These mimic celts in bronze may, no doubt, be regarded as thunder or lightning symbols, the emblems of the Thunder-god, and as typifying the actual stone celts, which throughout West Africa are recognised as “thunderbolts,” “god-axes,” etc.’ [JC 4 12 2014]

Listed as no B9/49 on p. 2.1.33 and nos G4/74 - G4/79 on p. 2.1.79 in An Illustrated Catalogue of Benin Art, by Philip J. C. Dark (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1982). [JC 1995]