Dance of the women warriors, Abomey, Benin, 1971 by Eliot Elisofon
The dance of the women warriors recalls the existence in the eighteenth century of Amazons as a fighting force in Dahomey’s* foreign wars as well as a royal bodyguard.
*The Kingdom of Dahomey was an important regional power that had an organized domestic economy, significant international trade with European powers, a centralized administration, significant taxation systems, and an organized military. Notable in the kingdom were significant artwork, all-female military units known as the Dahomey Amazons, and elaborate religious practices of Vodun with the large festival of the Annual Customs of Dahomey
In 1894, the Kingdom was colonized by France and made part of French West Africa, French rule lasted until 1960, after which the again-independent nation became Republic of Dahomey, and later Benin in 1975.
(Photo: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives)
Côte d’Ivoire, Fillettes Guéré (Ivory Coast, Guéré little girls)
'Jeunes filles Guéré du groupe des “enfants-saltimbanques” : leur costume symbolise le “serpent” (elles sont différemment maquillées). De la série “Enfants du monde”.
( Guéré young girl from the group of “child acrobats”: their costume symbolizes the “snake” ). From the series “Children of the World”.
Photo and caption by Olivier Martel