Lot: 218

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

ivory, pigment,
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.


This object is subject to CITES. Please note that it can only be sent within the European Community. At the present time export in third countries is prohibited.