Benin Bronzes Analysis

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The Benin bronzes, which are a large collection of sculptures, have caused much controversy in the Art as well as Anthropology worlds and have created widely circulated discussion throughout Europe. This is because of their importance, as not only displays of unique craftsmanship, but also as pieces of anthropological significance. The bronzes were from the West African kingdom of Benin which was situated by the river Niger, and around 2,400 objects were discovered and looted during the Punitive Expedition of 1897. Upon arrival the British expedition secured the bronzes and then subsequently sold them off to private collectors and public institutions; many of which were in Europe because of the large amount of people that wished to own them due to their significance. The bronzes visual…show more content…
In the extract Roth uses the term “fine specimens” this connotes a scientific approach, that he believes the objects to be good examples of sculpture or African Art. The line “the finest collection of plaques that is to be found in any museum” connotes arrogance, that he is proud that these objects have been acquired and that they are now owned by the British Empire. His arrogant and possessive tone occurs more throughout the extract and he states “govern native communities” this shows that Roth views the bronzes as commodities to be used not to gain an anthropological understanding in order to educate but instead to use the knowledge gained from the Benin Bronzes as a way to enslave people and gain more profit. It is clear that as a person of the early twentieth century, Roth clearly views the object as a means of gaining power and money. The line “what methods of government and what forms of taxation are most suited to the particular tribes” again

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