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Benin Masks

The Benin ivory mask is a miniature sculptural portrait in ivory of the Queen Mother Idia. It was traditionally worn as a pendant as well as a mask.

Benin City

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Faces of Benin

The Men Wearing the Masks Representing Benin

Masks, magical movements, singing: the wisdom of the village all have been passed down from generation to generation in Benin for centuries. The  Gelede masks are used to ward off evil spirits which manifest themselves through calamities, for example, or to solve ethnic conflicts, moralize behaviours, reassert the importance of events for the community. The  Gelede masks are also a way to send messages of compassion, or solidarity, as well as an insult or a joke.

Cotonou

Dancing and Drinking Gin in Benin

Often, things get loosened up by a little liquor, many dancers drink gin. Maybe they will let you drink and dance a little with them when you visit. Benin has a multitude of ethnic groups, each with interesting and unique traditional dances linked to the heritage from which that ethnic group sprang. Each one has characteristic moves that are pleasing to dancer and audience alike.

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Benin

Benin Woman and Human Rights

Women have more rights in Benin now than in the past. The situation has improved markedly since 2004 and the passing of a Personal and Family Code which overrode various traditional customs that systematically treated women unequally. 

Domestic violence is still widespread, with penalties of up to 3 years in prison, but women are reluctant to report cases and authorities are reluctant to intervene in what are generally considered private matters.

Cotonou, Benin

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