Book Review

The Benin Plaques

A 16th Century Imperial Monument

by Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch

Bronze plaques from the kingdom of Benin are amongst the most iconic masterpieces of African art. Author Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch, Department Head for the Arts of Africa and Oceania at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, presents a detailed look at almost 850 plaques from the 16th century court of the Kingdom of Benin, exploring oral histories and early European written histories

Kathryn spent over four years travelling and examining as many of these plaques in person, and by examine important clues in the workshop and dating methodology, has become the first person come up with an installation proposal for these plaques.

A more hypothetical but fascinating proposal in the book is that these plaques were produced in identical pairs for placement on pillars.

This is an important work on an often misunderstood subject, and opens ones thinking to further exploration on other aspects of Benin culture.