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1991

African art

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Oberlin's Sierra Leone Saltcellar: Documenting A Bicultural Dialogue, Kathy Curnow Dec 1990

Oberlin's Sierra Leone Saltcellar: Documenting A Bicultural Dialogue, Kathy Curnow

Kathy Curnow

Oberlin College's Allen Art Museum owns an ivory saltcellar made by a West African artist for a Portuguese client in the late 15th or early 16th century in Sierra Leone. The artist had to consider what foreign and local features to include in this export piece; it conforms in shape to European cups or chalices and depicts some Portuguese, but also includes what appears to be a local motif of dogs confronting snakes. The facial style is decidedly local, resembling the prognathous faces of contemporaneous stone sculptures. The saltcellar is topped with an image of the kneeling Virgin Mary ...