Side-Blown Horn (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 1900
ivory, brass, shell
Sierra Leone
Overall: 27 9/16 × 4 3/8 in. (70.01 × 11.11 cm)
Ivory trumpets are part of the regalia of a Mende paramount chief, a ruler over several villages. They are sounded when the chief enters one of his villages, hears a dispute, or presides over ceremonies. In Mende society, women can hold high office, including that of paramount chief. The figure carved on this horn may represent either a female chief or a member of the court. A board for the popular game known as wari or mankala rests on her “lap.” An elaborately carved version of a game board is displayed next to the horn.

The British lion and crown on the horn’s sides suggest that it was carved when the Mende people were involved in treaties with the British government, from 1896 to about 1910.
Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
Brincard, Marie-Therese. “Sounding Forms:African Musical Instruments.” Washington D.C.: Museum of African Art. 26 April- 18 June 1989.

Vogel, Susan. “Africa and the Renaissance.” New York: The Center for African Art. 17 November 1988- 9 April 1989.

“The Art of African Gameboards” (African Mankala.) Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. 20 June - 7 October 1984.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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