It is this monopolization of the bronze guild system by the Oba and singularization
of the bronzes as sacred objects that Kopytoff(1988) describes as instances
when ‘power’ asserts itself symbolically by asserting its right to singularize
an object. Kopytoff (1988) goes further to suggest”what these monopolies
clearly do, however is to expand the visible reach of sacred power by
projecting it onto additional sacralized objects.” Eboreime (2000) goes further
to describe the function that the bronzes held in the production of knowledge
and meaning within the Benin society. Edo craftsmen and chiefs equate carvings and bronze castings to their
olden day’s photographs which narrate and commemorate scenes in Benin history.
Benin arts are primary vehicles for intellectual and aesthetic expression
serving the as visual metaphors, image texts and forms of unwritten
constitution regulating rituals, social and political relations between the
king, the priests and the people. (Eboreime, 2000) Eboreime’s describes how the sacralization of the bronzes also
functioned as vehicles of upholding thesocial and cultural traditions within
Benin society. The bronze plaques captured and referenced specific cultural
rituals, stories and historical accounts that could be referenced and passed from
generation to generation.

                  What this
implies is that within Benin society the original function of the bronze
plaques served as objects that were both patronised and sacralized by the Oba
to extend his sacred power, but also produced knowledge that served to
reference and uphold Edo rituals, history and tradition that could be capturedand
passed on from generation to generation. The status of the bronzes serve
Kopytoff’s notion of objects that make up the ‘symbolic inventory’ of a
society, objects that are ‘publicly precluded’ from commoditization as they
serve the symbolic status of those in control (Kopytoff, 1988).Within the Oba’s
Kingdom, the bronzes were symbolic of both the Oba’s status as ruler that was
interconnected to the history, rituals and cultural practices that defined the
Edo nation.

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