Art and Centralized Power

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Chief Osague, Benin KingdomNigeria, 1994. Photo by Kathy Curnow.


These rites often take the form of a sacrifice, as in this photograph where a Benin chief offers sacrifices to the kingdom's ancestors. Third, a divine king must never die a natural death. Rather, he is "put to death" on a chosen date or during his sleep when he is no longer able to fulfill his functions as ruler. Every kingship has its own permutations, transformations, and variations on these characteristics, which give to its distinctive flavor (Muller 1990).