The depiction of equestrian figures on plaques is very rare in Benin. We know of only one comparable plaque, located in Vienna's Museum of Ethnology. Both works depict horsemen in three-quarter profile and feature a three-dimensional rendering of the horsemen's crown and his horse's head. The fact that the headdress extends past the plaque's borders, detached from and towering above the rest of the work, creates an especially dynamic effect.
The headdress and clothing - especially the cowry-decorated tunic - are reminiscent of those worn by the free-standing statues of horsemen; presumably, those equestrian figures represent the same person as the one depicted on this plaque. It is often assumed that all portrayals of horsemen are meant to be the king Oranmiyan because he is said to have introduced horses to Benin. The unusual clothing of this horseman, however, does not support this contention. The headdress, too, is uncommon for Benin, more reminiscent of that worn by kings from Ife.
Armand DUCHATEAU: Benin. Kunst einer afrikanischen Königskultur, München 1995, S. S. 58, 60.
Annemarie SCHWEEGER-HEFEL: Afrikanische Bronzen, Wien 1948, S. 30.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 449/ 450.