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Benin Bronze Side-Blown Trumpet - PF.5339
Origin: Southcentral Nigeria
Circa: 16 th Century AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high x 1.75" (4.4cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Benin
Medium: Bronze

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At the top of this trumpet is a small face in relief bordered top and bottom by bands containing an interlocking S-shape pattern. The features of the face reveal well-formed eyes with large pupils, a broad nose and an open mouth with thick lips. From the center of the lower band a hand protrudes above a snake which lifts its head to touch the extended fingers. The snake's twisting body reaches to just above the rectangular mouth opening. Two rows of fourteen loops on either side of the upper portion may have been used to hang around the neck of the person blowing the instrument. Benin witchdoctors (ebo) or diviners use similar side-blown trumpets of ivory (known as oko) to combat negative forces, or to call witches in order to offer them food as a means of placating them. It is interesting to note that the face resembles those found on bronze objects from Djenne dating to as early as the 12th Century A.D. Whatever its origins and original purpose, this trumpet is a rare and beautiful work of art from one of Africa's richest and most ancient cultures. - (PF.5339)

 

 

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