The Dahomey Amazons during their stay in Paris, 1891

Amazons from Dahomey

Amazons from Dahomey during their stay in Paris, 1891

The group portrait of the “Amazons from Dahomey” was taken during their visit to Paris in 1891. The Dahomey Amazons, or the Ahosi (king’s wives) as they were known in their native Dahomey, were a group of women who served as soldiers in the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Benin).

The Dahomey female warriors were part of a larger exhibition of people and artifacts from Dahomey, which was organized by the French government and showcased at the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in Paris in 1890. The exhibition attracted a great deal of attention from the French public, and the Amazons in particular became the subject of much fascination and curiosity.

The group portrait shows the Dahomey Amazons in their traditional military dress, which included skirts made of animal hide, breastplates, and headdresses adorned with feathers and cowrie shells. Some of the women are holding spears or shields, while others are carrying instruments such as drums or horns.

The portrait was taken by French photographer Félix Nadar (1820-1910), who was known for his portraits of celebrities and public figures. Nadar was hired by the French government to document the Dahomey exhibition, and his photographs of the Amazons helped to popularize their image in Europe and beyond.

Today, the portrait is considered an important historical artifact, as it provides a rare glimpse into the lives and culture of the Amazons of Dahomey.