In this gallery, we look at striking examples of art from across the African continent. In gold, stone and metals, ancient and medieval African artists have not only given us unique pieces of art to admire but their works are also an insight into their respective cultures whether it be certain animals which were revered, the consideration of the human head as the container of the soul or simply what kind of jewellery was popular. By no means inclusive of all cultures, this gallery, nevertheless, includes art pieces from Egypt, Meroe, the Ptolemaic kingdom, West Africa, East Africa, and Mutapa and Mapungubwe in southern Africa.
One particular specialty of Benin artists was brass plaques. Rectangular and around 45 centimetres in height, these panels show figures in high relief, very often of warriors and rulers. Originally attached to wooden pillars in the royal palace of Benin, many of the plaques commemorate historical conflicts, show scenes of life at court and Benin religious rituals.