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Arts of Africa

These pendants carved from hippopotamus teeth were strung on cords with beads and amulets. The gesture of the hands on the breasts signifies divination, respect, and the containment of royal secrets.

The pendants are portraits, or at least likenesses, of certain revered ancestors, who are named and honored. Devotees have rubbed the figures with oil in homage to these ancestors, creating a smooth, rich color and lustrous surface.

MEDIUM Hippopotamus tooth
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 3 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. (8.3 x 3.2 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
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CAPTION Luba. Pendant, 19th century. Hippopotamus tooth, 3 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. (8.3 x 3.2 x 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1234. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1234_bw.jpg)
IMAGE left, 22.1234_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Pendant in the form of a woman; through shoulders are holes for hanging. Head is thrust forward; long neck has three rings stacked one on top of the other. Small circles with dots decorate figure. Condition: Good
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