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  • ISBN: 9780253335036
  • ISBN10: 0253335035

Art, Innovation, and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Benin

by Paula Ben-Amos

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 08/01/1999
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Description: In the mid-17th century, a crisis in royal succession threatened the stability of the ruling dynasty in Benin. Not until the 18th century were Benin's reigning monarchs secure from the challenges of powerful local chiefs. Surprisingly, this century of social and political turmoil coincides with a period of striking artistic innovation and achievement. Making use of archival and oral resources, Paula Girshick Ben-Amos reveals the extent to which art operates as political strategy. How do art objects acquire political meaning? How does the use of art enhance and embody power and authority? Ben-Amos demonstrates that it is possible to tease out the political meaning of material objects and thereby illuminate connections between art and politics. In the case of 18th-century Benin, art and imagery performed a strategic function as instruments of legitimization. A full appreciation of Benin's extraordinary artistic creation is made possible by this probing exploration of the social environment and historical circumstances that brought it into existence.
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