Sapi-Portuguese Saltcellar

This is a particularly unusual example of the 16th century ivory Sapi-Portuguese saltcellars, showing the mixture of African and European influences. This piece depicts a number of apparent Judaeo-Christian motifs, including Madonna and child on the lid, and Daniel in the lions den, and three children in the fiery furnace, on the bowl. The Portuguese Royal Arms can also be seen at the very bottom of the base. Such items were often patronised by Portuguese traders, and produced in Sierra Leone a European market. This is thought to be a particularly early example as a label is still attached to the object, marking an examination in 1520.

Further Information

  • Type: Ivories
  • Object: Sapi-Portuguese Saltcellar
  • Materials: Bone, ivory, tooth
  • Culture Group: Bullom, Temne
  • Dimensions: 310mm [H] x 138mm [W]
  • Production Date: 1490-1530
  • Associated Places: Unknown
  • Associated People: Newcastle upon Tyne Antiquaries Society; George Allan ; Richard Bateman
  • Museum: British Museum
  • Accession Number: BM:Af.1981.35.1.a.b

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