Connectez-vous S'inscrire

Asen : Forged Memories of Iron in Dahomey, Vodun Art in Geneva

Sculptures from the Republic of Benin and Togo until 21 May 2019.

An exhibition focusing on Asen forged iron altars, specifically from the former kingdom of Dahomey - in Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva.

3 Janvier 2019 - 21:30

These striking sculptures fashioned by village artisans of the southern area of the Republic of Benin and Togo, constitute a kind of portable altar located on the grounds of the asenxo (asen house), where deceased members of the family are commemorated in annual ceremonies. The living communicate with the dead and interrogate them while offering food or ritual libations to their ancestors. The scenes depicted on these altars are fascinating, mirroring daily life and showing traditions of these peoples, these include planting and harvesting or rites of passage.

It comes as no surprise that these altars are closely identified with healing, protection or divination, as well as transferring knowledge from the spirit world to the earthly world in the Vodun temples.

This function increased in importance as royal courts grew in power in Dahomey from the 17th to the 19th centuries. For example, in the Dahomey (Fon) court in Abomey, each king, and the woman who personified the ruler after his death, was associated with a distinct asen. Royal asen were brought out during annual local traditional rites and positioned near the djeho (spirit house of the king). These were initially covered by a cloth. After removing the cloth, libations and food such as yam, corn and beans in gourd containers, were offered as sacrifices accompanied by incantations or songs.

The majority of the asen featured in the exhibition were created in the coastal port city of Ouidah, many dating from the mid to late 19th century, earlier than those in Abomey, largely destroyed by the 1892-94 French colonial war. New forms, commissioned by King Agoli Agbothen between 1894 and 1900 from the royal guild of jewelers and smiths, the Hountondji family blacksmith guild, replaced those destroyed.

The catalogue was supervised by Dr. Suzanne Preston Blier, curator, expert on the subject who helped choose the forged iron altars on display, from the museum’s vast collection.
Asen. Master of the Curved Horn Ram. Ouidah, Republic of Benin. Mid-late 19th century. Iron. H. 154 cm; diam. 33.5 cm. Inv. 1010-67. Musée Barbier-Mueller. Photo Luis Lourenço.
Asen. Master of the Curved Horn Ram. Ouidah, Republic of Benin. Mid-late 19th century. Iron. H. 154 cm; diam. 33.5 cm. Inv. 1010-67. Musée Barbier-Mueller. Photo Luis Lourenço.

The Barbier-Mueller Museum is open 365 days of the year from 11am to 5pm,
Rue Jean Calvin, 10, 1204 Geneva – tel. +41 22 12 02 07.
email : for group reservations.
Adults : 8 francs with many special reductions.

Nouveau commentaire :
Les opinions sont libres à la condition de respecter les limites fixées par la Loi et par la jurisprudence.

D'autres articles / More stories
< >

Mardi 19 Février 2019 - 14:50 Karl Lagerfeld est décédé

Journal Paris Tribune | Grand Paris Tribune | France Tribune | Europe Tribune | Monde Tribune | Fontenay Tribune | Maohi Tribune | Libye Tribune | Paris Tribune Post | Cités | Journal du 1er arr. | Journal du 2e arr. | Journal du 3e arr. | Journal du 4e arr. | Journal du 5e arr. | Journal du 6e arr. | Journal du 7e arr. | Journal du 8e arr. | Journal du 9e arr. | Journal du 10e arr. | Journal du 11e arr. | Journal du 12e arr. | Journal du 13e arr. | Journal du 14e arr. | Journal du 15e arr. | Journal du 16e arr. | Journal du 17e arr. | Journal du 18e arr. | Journal du 19e arr. | Journal du 20e arr.