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Benin Leader's Visit Is France's First Test on Returning African Art Treasures

In the 19th century, the Kingdom of Dahomey was a major West African power, boasting a flourishing slave trade with Europe and a feared corps of Amazon women warriors. Commissioned by the royal court, its art — intricate wood and ivory carvings, metalwork and appliqué cloth — stood as a potent symbol of the kingdom’s might. But by 1894, Dahomey was annexed by France after a pair of brutal wars. Its artifacts ended up in French museums and private collections. Now modern-day Benin,...

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