Tusk

A work made of ivory.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ivory.

Date:

1850/1888

Artist:

Edo, Kingdom of Benin
Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

Ivory's white color evokes spiritual harmony for the Edo; thus, its presence enhances an altar's sanctity. Ivory’s important role as a commodity controlled by the oba also made it attractive for use on royal altars. Since the 18th century, oba’s altars have been embellished with matched pairs of carved elephant tusks, reflecting the increase in ivory’s value at that time. The tusks were anchored on brass commemorative heads. Oba Adolo commissioned this tusk in the mid-19th century for the altar of his father, Oba Osemwende. The iconography, which prominently features the fish-legged oba motif, honors the 15th-century ruler Oba Ewuare.

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Arts of Africa

Artist

Edo

Title

Tusk

Origin

Kingdom of Benin

Date

1850–1888

Medium

Ivory

Dimensions

150.5 × 195.6 × 12.7 cm (59 1/4 × 77 × 5 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin E. Hokin

Reference Number

1976.523

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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