Dahomey was a powerful African nation until its incorporation into French West Africa in 1894. Among the Fon a special royal guild of casters produced figures and groups, considered works of art, owned by the wealthy and the royal circle. They are depicted in daily pursuits as well as ceremonial and are made of spelter or pot metal which is primarily zinc. All have painted detail and as with other African art, the paint is a valuable tool in dating. All of these use early white lead based paint and may be dated to the second half of the 19th century. They come from a collection of nearly 40 pieces among which, significantly, no European object is depicted, further supporting their 19th century dating.
A seated elder with legs crossed holding a large knife. Good characterful facial detail.