Michael Graham-Stewart collection, World Cultures, Africa, Special collections

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Loango tusk

Michael Graham-Stewart collection

Object connections:

Collection Michael Graham-Stewart collection, World Cultures, Africa, Special collections
ExhibitionsThe Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire, Enslavement and Resistance
User collections Collectables (All) by blueheatwave
Collectables (Africa) by blueheatwave
Gallery locationAtlantic Gallery (Floor plans)
Publication(s)Treasures of the National Maritime Museum
Gloria Clifton and Nigel Rigby
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Object details:

Object ID ZBA2430
Description This carved elephant tusk was produced on the Loango coast, between Cape Lopez and the Zaire River in West Africa. Loango carvers probably made it in the late 19th century for sale to European buyers. Depending on the size, the carving of a single tusk could take between two and sixteen months. Using iron tools it has been carved spirally with scenes of West African life. The tusk depicts the arrival of Europeans and the enslavement of Africans, who are shown being taken to the coast to be sold to slave traders. Other scenes show a European delegation, a band of African musicians, and a man carrying an umbrella, which was a status object associated with trade with Europeans. Still more scenes show representations of animals, such as the one with two men drinking with a dog at their table. Animals like dogs and lizards are particularly linked to the supernatural in Kongo religion and represent the spiritual elements of life on the Loango coast.
Date made 19th century

Artist/Maker Unknown
Place made Congo, Africa
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund
Materials ivory
Measurements Tusk: 765 mm
  • Loango tusk (ZBA2430)
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