By the time this war trumpet was made, slaving in Africa was an industry matched only by the ivory trade. Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda stated in 1998 “African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them”. Tribal warfare had evolved, and its sole purpose was the capture of slaves for the market. As in Europe, signaling on the battlefield coordinated and directed the attack. The ivory war trumpet oliphant was the means of signaling. This example is 19” in length, painstakingly carved from an ivory tuck with open finial, which provided a two-note tone. The mouthpiece (embouchure) is carved in diamond form with a raised annular band. The bottom is slightly flattened so it may sit without rolling  It had a long career indicated by the typical shrink cracks, some with original native pitch repairs. There are remnants of scrimshaw applied by the owner, while idle, better described as doodling that art. They include a hut with chevrons above, and zig-zag lines. Its great use has imbued it with a wonderful mottled patina and great character which belies its sinister past. Virtually among the rarest of surviving accouterments of the slave trade. A superb example of African Art.
Item ID: A9727

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