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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Musical Instruments : Benin Ivory Trumpet
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Benin Ivory Trumpet - PF.3363
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 1700 AD to 1897 AD
Dimensions: 32" (81.3cm) high x 2.25" (5.7cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Ivory

Location: United States
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In the 13th or 14th Century A.D., a state emerged in what is today Nigeria. By the 15th Century, the state had become a powerful warrior kingdom, with the divine kingship at the center of its political, religious, and social life. Nearly all art was created to honor the king or Oba, who claimed descent from a legendary prince of the earlier Yoruba Kingdom of Ife. The Benin court flourished until the end of the 19th Century. Sculptures created from ivory, such as this trumpet, are often carved with images of the deeds and exploits of a particular king. This beautiful, intricately carved ivory trumpet is truly breathtaking. The well-polished surface glows with a warm brownish color and the delicate carvings of complex patterns, symbols, and figures adorn the tusk. The very top portion of the trumpet shows a regal figure, perhaps a chieftain or a king, wearing an elaborate costume and a headdress while seated upon a throne. Depiction of armed warriors, women, and snakes show beautiful detail, such as patterns on clothing, armor, etc. The bottom of the trumpet shows various shapes in a patterned repetition. The expert artistry is undoubtedly shown in this functional work of art that cleverly utilizes the natural shape of the tusk. The images reveal the prowess of the king in a throne and as we look at the carvings, we begin to see little clues of the king’s venture and achievements. The skillful and intricate artistry of this ancient ivory amazes the viewer today. Although we may not be able to decipher the meaning of the ancient symbolism, we still appreciate its incredible, timeless beauty. - (PF.3363)


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