Universiteit Leiden

To honour an Oba
To honour an Oba Bronze statue of an Oba, Benin, made between 1600 and 1720

This kind of statue was made when an Oba (ruler) died, to honour the deceased. In 1897, British troops carried out a punitive expedition against the Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, taking a large number of bronze statues and reliefs as spoils. The collection was divided among several ethnographic museums in Europe, including the one in Leiden. At the moment, a policy on the return of colonial spoils is currently being worked on. As a member of the Supervisory Board of the National Museum of World Cultures, Carel Stolker is closely following the discussion on the restitution of colonial collections.

Headdress from Enggano
Headdress from Enggano Indonesia, made before 1888

On the Indonesian island of Enggano, the women wore a special headdress at important rituals. This hat depicts a defeated enemy. Such headgear was worn when harvesting, hunting or introducing special objects from outside the village. These objects would be displayed in the village square, and the women would dance past the houses and offer young coconuts. Special objects from outside were thought to promote fertility and creativity. Similarly, the University would wither away without outside influences.

Territory Dress
Territory Dress Susan Stockwell, 2018

A dress with many layers. This recently created Territory Dress has been fashioned from maps of the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, Indonesia, Suriname and the Netherlands, visualising themes such as colonialism, globalisation and the relationships between past, present and future. Colonialism is studied in many ways at the university, in disciplines ranging from Law to History.