Collections: Arts of Africa: Figure of a Man Holding a Crocodile

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

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    2000.93.1_SL3.jpg CUR.2000.93.1_print_threequarter_bw.jpg

    Figure of a Man Holding a Crocodile

    Nothing is known for certain about the original use of stone carvings such as this one, since the area in which they were made suffered severe social and political disruption in the 1500s. The crocodile most likely represents an ancestor, and the figure some form of communication between the living and the ancestor. The forelegs of the crocodile merge with the arms of the man, suggesting a deep link between the two. The carver of this figure probably belonged to a group of Sapi artists who also made objects for export, such as the ivory cup in this case.

    • Culture: Sapi
    • Medium: Stone
    • Place Made: Sierra Leone
    • Dates: 15th century or earlier
    • Dimensions: 4 x 1 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (10.2 x 3.8 x 5.7 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of Africa
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 2000.93.1
    • Credit Line: Purchased with funds given by the Noah-Sadie K. Wachtel Foundation, Inc.
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Sapi. Figure of a Man Holding a Crocodile, 15th century or earlier. Stone, 4 x 1 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (10.2 x 3.8 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by the Noah-Sadie K. Wachtel Foundation, Inc., 2000.93.1. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 2000.93.1_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: The object is carved of stone depicting a human figure in a squatting or kneeling posture holding a crocodile in front with both hands. Facial features are atriculated in relief with horizontal ridge spanning from the corners of the mouth to just below the ears on both checks. The features are stylized with the head being comparatively large for the size of the body of the figure which makes the object top heavy when stood up on its base. The arms or sleeves of the figure as well as the back and tail of the crocodile are delineated with cross hatching marks. Other surfaces are undecorated. A hole of 3/4 inches deep and 1/4 inch diameter is drilled into the top of the head of the figure (male?). The hollow is not straight and the rim of the opening is unevenly beveled. Soil or burial accretion covers most of the surfaces. Where exposed, the stone is observed to have a crystal structure of interlocking, randomly oriented fibrous clusters of translucent pale gray and green color. The worn areas feel smooth and slippery. CONDITION: Overall surface wear; otherwise in good condition.
    • Record Completeness: Best (83%)
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