Carved Wooden Leopard
This carved wooden leopard is a work of art from the Kingdom of Benin, in present day Nigeria. Within the beliefs of the Kingdom of Benin, leopards were important animals.
The objects in this display were collected by Percy Cotton during his four expeditions to Kashmir 1890-1898. The masks that accompany the costumes of a woman from Ladakh and the Gelug (Yellow Hat sect) monk, were made especially for this display during Percy's final visit to the region in 1898.
This was one of the Museum’s first permanent displays of cultural artefacts (to accompany the natural history dioramas) and was in place by at least 1920, when it is mentioned in the second iteration of the Museum’s guidebook, the first being published in 1900.
Percy built his museum in the grounds of his family home, Quex House. Although today we call this room Gallery 2, it was actually the first part of the Museum to be completed, and was originally known as ‘The Pavilion’. Percy didn’t just photograph his expeditions and travels, but kept a visual record of his museum and its development through the first decades of the 20th century. The archive he left of the Museum itself, is an important part of the history of the collection.