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When it roars, it pours

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Africa, Nigeria (Benin), Leopard, 17th century, bronze, The Miscellaneous Works of Art Purchase Fund, Gallery 250

Did you know? This bronze leopard is actually a water vessel, used exclusively by the oba, or king, for ceremonial washing. The vessel was filled through a round, hinged opening at the top of the leopard’s head; when tipped, water poured out through its nostrils. Admired for its power, ferocity, agility, and intelligence, the leopard became an important symbol for the oba, whose power was absolute.

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