Souvenir Ivory with Figurative Motifs
Arts of Africa
This souvenir tusk captures a transitional period in Central Africa’s Loango Coast. It would have been commissioned from a Vili carver by an American, Brazilian, Indian, or European employee of a shipping company or other institution stationed there. Vili carvers were famous for intricate ivory carvings executed with iron tools. They exercised significant agency in style and self-representation when filling a patron's order. Here, the artist depicts people and animals likely headed to market. Like Seminole doll-makers, Vili artists reproduced of-the-moment clothing. The figures wear both Loango waist wrappers and European tailored coats. A spiral band references zinga (coil of life), a centuries-old motif from the nearby Kongo kingdom. Blending imagery, Central and Western African artists had carved ivories for local and foreign patrons since the fifteenth century.
Hippopotamus tooth, graphite
late 19th century
16 x 3 x 6 3/4 in. (40.6 x 7.6 x 17.1 cm) (show scale)
Purchase gift of Mrs. Arthur G. Cohen
This item is not on view
Vili artist. Souvenir Ivory with Figurative Motifs, late 19th century. Hippopotamus tooth, graphite, 16 x 3 x 6 3/4 in. (40.6 x 7.6 x 17.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Mrs. Arthur G. Cohen, 1991.176. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.176.jpg)
overall, 1991.176.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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