Casting, metalwork, effigy, sculpture


late 20th Century


Benin, Africa



Object Number



The figures atop asen are not in themselves powerful; rather, they are the visual representation of symbols, proverbs, fables, and poetry that praise the deceased, evoke the ache (power) of ancestors, and remind the living to keep their commitments to the dead.

The tableau of this asen shows a kneeling figure holding and offering a calabash vessel to two seated figures. For the Fon, the calabash is a container for serving food. The offering of the calabash is also a metaphor for the connection between the living and the dead; ancestors too drink from the calabash offered by the living. The purpose of the calabash parallels the purpose of an asen: both are vessels of offering and a way in which the living can communicate with the dead.

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Edna Bay


Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, March 29, 2013 - December 1, 2014
MCCM Newsletter, Spring-Summer 2012.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White 2010.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View



“Asen,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed July 11, 2020,

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