Figurally carved handle in the shape of a crocodile, 15th / 16th centuryClick here to view a larger version of the image
Figurally carved handle in the shape of a crocodile, 15th / 16th century
Nigeria, Edo-Bini (Bini-Portuguese) / Sierra Leone, Sapi
|Provenance||Size||Starting price / estimated price|
|Belgian Private Collection||L: 3.5 inch||4000 EUR / 8000 EUR|
This masterfully executed filigree carving is probably the crowning of a spoon handle.
Sapi and Bini craftsmen made exquisitely carved ivory objects, such as spoons, hunting horns or saltcellars for the Portuguese sailors and traders who were then sailing down the west coast of Africa in their effort to discover a passage to India and the Orient.
They are called Afro-Portuguese ivories.
They are the earliest form of African "tourist art" that we know. As gifts for the patrons of Portuguese traders and sailors, they often became part of princely cabinets of curiosity, large collections of assorted “exotica” from around the world.