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Palace Sculptures of Abomey: History Told on Walls (Conservation &…

by Francesca Pique

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The Fon, who are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Benin in West Africa, established the powerful kingdom of Dahomey in the early seventeenth century. In their capital city of Abomey, they built a remarkable complex of palaces, featuring walls decorated with colorful low-relief sculptures, or bas-reliefs, which recount legends and battles and glorify the history of their royal dynasty's reign. Over the centuries, these visual stories have represented and perpetuated the history and myths of the Fon people. Palace Sculptures of Abomey combines lavish color photographs of the bas-reliefs with a lively history of the Dahomey kingdom, complemented by period drawings, rare historical photographs, and colorful textile art. The book provides a vivid portrait of these exceptional narrative sculptures and the equally remarkable people who crafted them. Also included is a discussion of the continuing popularity of bas-reliefs in contemporary West African art, a reading of the stories on the walls, and details of the four-year collaboration between the Benin Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Getty Conservation Institute to conserve the bas-reliefs of Abomey.… (more)

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The Fon, who are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Benin in West Africa, established the powerful kingdom of Dahomey in the early seventeenth century. In their capital city of Abomey, they built a remarkable complex of palaces, featuring walls decorated with colorful low-relief sculptures, or bas-reliefs, which recount legends and battles and glorify the history of their royal dynasty's reign. Over the centuries, these visual stories have represented and perpetuated the history and myths of the Fon people. Palace Sculptures of Abomey combines lavish color photographs of the bas-reliefs with a lively history of the Dahomey kingdom, complemented by period drawings, rare historical photographs, and colorful textile art. The book provides a vivid portrait of these exceptional narrative sculptures and the equally remarkable people who crafted them. Also included is a discussion of the continuing popularity of bas-reliefs in contemporary West African art, a reading of the stories on the walls, and details of the four-year collaboration between the Benin Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Getty Conservation Institute to conserve the bas-reliefs of Abomey.

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