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About This Artwork
Ring Depicting a Chameleon, 19th/mid-20th century
4.1 x 3.3 x 2.9 cm (1 5/8 x 1 5/16 x 1 1/8 in.)
Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, 2007.579
Small cast copper-alloy ornaments are made across West Africa within the arc of the great Niger River. Brass or bronze casting has powerful associations with the supernatural because, like ironworking, it is a highly specialized process that uses fire to transform a raw material into a form that is useful and meaningful to humans. For the Senufo, copper-alloy ornaments are pleasing to the eye and offer protection by representing and honoring nature spirits. [See also 2007.600-01].
— Revised permanent collection label
Muriel Kallis Newman (died 2008), Chicago, Ill., by 1980; given to the Art Institute, 2007.