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Art, Performance and Ritual in Benin City$
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Charles Gore

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633166

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633166.001.0001

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The Parrot’s Tale

The Parrot’s Tale

Chapter:
(p.157) 7 The Parrot’s Tale
Source:
Art, Performance and Ritual in Benin City
Author(s):

Gore Charles

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633166.003.0008

This chapter examines the use of a particular artefact, the red tail feather of the African grey parrot. This feather adorns the heads of priests and priestesses as a marker of full initiation into the rites of the particular deities they serve. The chapter analyses its imagery, comparing it to that of other feathers which feature in the ideas and practices of these shrines, and examines how individuals establish different, and sometimes opposing, significances in relation to it. This has implications for other artefacts and also for the more customary objects of Benin art history such as, for example, the plaques and other leaded brasses.

Keywords:   red tail feather, African grey parrot, initiation rites, Benin art history

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