Yellow Queen Mother Mask of Benin
Queen Mother Pendant Mask (Iyoba), 16th century, Edo peoples, Court of Benin, Nigeria
This pendant mask was created in the early sixteenth century for an Oba (King) named Esigie, in honor of his mother Idia. The face has softly modeled, naturalistic features, with graceful curves that echo the oval shape of the head. Four carved scarification marks, a number associated with females, indicate her gender. Queen Idia is honored as a powerful and politically astute woman who provided critical assistance to her son during the kingdom’s battles to expand. Upon the successful conclusion of the war, Esigie paid tribute to Idia by bestowing upon her the title of Queen Mother, a custom that has continued with subsequent rulers until the present time. H=19"