Fon fetish, Benin

Wood, bone, iron. Late 19th-early 20th century. Inv.: 2009.14.2

The kingdom of Dahomey, today the Republic of Benin, located on the Gulf of Guinea, was from the late 17th century one of the main centres of the slave trade. It is estimated that nearly two million slaves were deported from European trading posts on the coast of Benin.

Among the most widely known items produced by the Fon are Botchio fetishes, used in the protection of villages, clans and individuals.

This unique Botchio is covered with authentic and very old slave chains and includes two crocodile skulls. Its role is connected to the removal of enchantment, symbolised here by the chains. The crocodile skulls on the front and back of the statue act to contain the energy carried by the fetish.

Objects including slave chains are very rare as they have frequently been destroyed in a later attempt to efface the traumatic memory of the slave trade.





Photo d'un fétiche fon du Bénin

Fon fetish, Benin. Photo F.Deval City hall of Bordeaux