BENIN QUEEN IDIA MASK
This petitionis to put a stop to the planned auction of a 16th century Benin mask stolen during the invasion of Benin Empire by the British in 1897. It is one of similar mask in the British Museum. The planned auction of one of these masks along with five other Benin objects by the "descendants of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Gallwey is illegal as the object was stolen.( Lt Col Henry Gallwey in 1913 changed his name to Galway) who was appointed deputy commissioner and vice-consul in the newly established Oil Rivers Protectorate (later the Niger Coast Protectorate) in 1891. He remained in Nigeria until 1902 and participated in the British Government’s “Punitive Expedition” of 1897 against Benin City. The faces of the five known pendant masks have been interpreted widely by scholars of Benin art as that of Idia, the first Queen Mother of Benin."
Sotheby's plans to auction this precious mask and other Benin objects on 17 February 2011. We plan to put a stop to the auction and get the items returned to the Benin Palace of the Oba of Benin from where it was stolen. We also wish to compel the British museum to return the second similar mask.