Sapi-Portuguese Saltcellar

This is a 16th century ivory saltcellar or box. The conical base depicts three female figures, alternating with crocodiles. One the figures looks like it is positioned in front of a crucifix. A snake can be seen spiralling up towards the bowl. The British Museum records refer to this as Afro-Portuguese, a term used to indicate items from Sierra Leone and Nigeria, made for a Portuguese market in the 15th and 16th centuries. Such items display a mixture of African and European elements and motifs in their overall form and ornamentation, and were considered prestige items across Europe. A more specific term for items patronised in Sierra Leone, is Sapi-Portuguese.

Further Information

  • Type: Ivories
  • Object: Sapi-Portuguese Saltcellar
  • Materials: Bone, ivory, tooth
  • Culture Group: Bullom, Temne
  • Dimensions: Unknown
  • Production Date: Pre 1949
  • Associated Places: Unknown
  • Associated People: D. K. Oldman
  • Museum: British Museum
  • Accession Number: BM:Af.1949.46.177

Related Objects

Ivory Box