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Africa

Gertrude Benham collection

Leather rectangular bag with brightly decorated bead pattern, beaded strap and edging

Amongst the large collection of African material are jewellery and accessories, food containers, bags and other items collected by Gertrude Benham during her travels across Africa. She also collected a number of goldweights used by the Asante people of modern-day Ghana. Discover the history behind these intriguing decorative objects in this document:

Goldweights from West Africa (pdf)

One of Benham’s most significant achievements was trekking right across Africa from East to West.  Find out more about her adventures in the document below.

About Gertrude Benham (pdf)

Wright collection and Pye collection

Significant African collections include the Wright collection of over 170 items of mid twentieth century Zulu beadwork, and over 20 items of clothing, weapons and horse gear obtained by Lieutenant Francis Pye during the Keffi-Abuja Expedition in Northern Nigeria in 1902. Lieutenant Pye was a member of the West Africa Frontier Force which was set up to control (by force) native rulers of British colonies in the region. To find out more about the historical context of this action and the items that Pye collected you can read the Northern Nigeria research report by Independent Curator, Len Pole.

Northern Nigeria research report (pdf)

Other collections

Carved and decorated wooden gaming board in which figures appear to be holding up the board, which has 12 discs

Other African collections of interest include about 100 items from Nigeria, including several Benin pieces and a group of tools associated with iron-smelting and other Yoruba metal working.
A small collection of objects from West Africa donated by C.H. Mitchell includes what is probably the finest example of a Yoruba ayo or mancala gaming board in British museum collections.