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CA 07.04 Sub-Saharan Civilizations - Ghana, Mali - Medieval Africa

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Lidded Saltcellars.
15th-16th c African (West) Afro-Portuguese Sculpture

BINI-PORTUGUESE Anonymous (aka Edo-Portuguese Anonymous; Beninese-Portuguese Ano (active c. 1485 - c. 1700) Primary
BINI-PORTUGUESE Anonymous (aka Edo-Portuguese Anonymous; Beninese-Portuguese Ano (active c. 1485 - c. 1700)
c. 1400-1599
15th-16th c
Salt cellar
Sierra Leone. Africa.
L. New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art. R. London. Museum of Mankind.
The Portuguese did better with ivory which was in great demand by the Europeans, but was extremely expensive because it was brought across the Sahara on the Muslim caravans. Portuguese traders worked with native artisans to produce objects like these lidded ivory salt cellars for the European market. They were most likely based on African vessels, but they adopted ever greater European motifs. The one of the left is decorated with standing African warriors, dogs and elegant serpents, but the top is carved with a heraldic European rose. A symbolic European ship tops the saltcellar on the right, a tiny lookout peering out of the crow's-nest, a megaphone in his hand. The lower portion is carved with figures dressed in noble European garb. The bearded man fiercely clutches both spear and sword, but he wears a feather in his cap and his stockings are decorated with roses. A large cross hangs around his neck. The figure carries a great resemblance to a portrait of Afonso de Albuquerque, second governor of the Indies which currently hangs in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. On the basis of the stylistic similarities with carvings of the Sapi people, the provenance of the fascinating piece on the left has been located on the Island of Sherbo, and other places along the coast of Sierra Leone. The one on the right is thought to have been created in the Benin region.

Caption: SAPI-PORTUGUESE Anonymous | Lidded Saltcellar.s | c. 1400-1599 | Portugese | Sapi/Portuguese

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