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Creator Nationality: Africa, Nigeria, Edo, Benin City, 19th century
Creator Name-CRT: Africa, Nigeria, Edo, Benin City, 19th century
Title: Carved Tusk
Title Type: Primary
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1899
Creation Date: 1800s
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Ivory
Materials and Techniques: ivory
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1968.284
Credit Line: Gift of Katherine C. White
Style or Period: Africa, Nigeria, Edo, Benin City, 19th century
Context: The powerful Benin kingdom of southern Nigeria was noted for its ancient, refined artistic traditions. Benin witnessed a remarkable flowering of the arts from about 1400 to 1900 -- mainly sponsored by the king. One of the site that received much artistic attention was the altar for the king's ancestors containing bronze heads, bells, sculptures, wooden rattle staffs, carved ivory tusks, and other objects that commemorated the power and spiritual presence of past rulers.The altar's centerpiece was a bronze head representing a departed ruler. It was cast by the "lost-wax" (cire perdue) method, whereby the sculpture was first modelled in wax, covered in clay, and then heated to melt off the wax, which was thus "lost" and replaced by molten bronze. The head supports an elaborately carved ivory tusk that symbolizes the awesome spiritual powers emanating from the king's sacred head. The museum's tusk dates to the 1800s. Together, the head and the carved tusk document a span of nearly three centuries of Benin art history.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1968.284
AMICA Library Year: 2003
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