"Threatening Lion - Dahomey Statuette - Culture Fon - Benin 1930-50"Protective lion
Statuette Dahomey - Fon Culture - Benin second third twentieth century.
Hardwood - patina of use - traces of polychromy - Probably an object intended for an altar.
Length 30.8 cm - depth 11.7 - height 29.4 cm.
Here is a reminder of the symbolism of the lion in Fon art. According to the article written by Suzanne Preston-Blier in Magie (Musée Dapper, Paris, 1996) on King Glélé of Dahomey, the divinatory portraits of a lion king and an iron man.
When he came to power, "a strong name" was associated with the new king of Abomey. King Glélé was thus nicknamed kini kini kini or lion of the lions when he was inaugurated in 1858. This name will have an influence on the reign of the young sovereign as well as on artistic production. This animal then appears on the bas-reliefs of the palace, court clothing, parasols, recades, etc.
In 1871, J.A. Skertchly, an English explorer, during his stay at the Abomey court described sculptures of lions on garnet-red cushions.
The famous statue in the Musée du Quai Branly representing a man with a lion's head is a striking evocation of King Glélé (inv. 71.1893.45.2).
The lion's features are most often accentuated, thus exacerbating the aggressiveness of the animal: its jaws are powerful and its teeth sharp.
==> Since the end of the 19th century, the representation of the lion has been linked to the personification of power and strength within a community.