69. A Fon Wood Phallus

Dahomey, 19th century
Size: 27 cm long

Few short stories can match this one. In 1977 Bruce Chatwin went to Dahomey (now Benin) accompanied by John Kasmin, to do research for his book, The Viceroy of Ouidah. While there, the acting king received them in an official ceremony in his compound at Abomey, in the course of which the great-grand-daughter of King Sagbadjou (aged 103) presented them with this wood phallus. It may be difficult for us to decipher the significance of such a gift, but it was gratefully received, of course.