Dating in kongo
Eventually, Kongo ivory carvers expanded their repertoire to include not only works for indigenous leaders and elites but also artifacts for European and other foreigners who were involved with trade.
Richly decorated oliphants, or side-blown horns, from the sixteenth century are among the earliest known of the Kongo Kingdom’s royal commissions in ivory.
These sculptures portray invested leaders posed with symbolic attributes.
These leaders commissioned expert sculptors to produce fine ivory sculptures for their personal and courtly use.
With the rise of the transatlantic trade through the seventeenth into nineteenth centuries, ivory became among the most valuable African natural resources desired by Western industry.
Kongo ivory sculptors’ renowned skill combined with the high market value of ivory led to a demand for relief-carved tusks and various ivory figurines as popular souvenirs for European merchants engaged in trade along the Loango Coast of west-central Africa (1993.382a,b; 1978.412.348).
Loango Coast ivories, which flourished during the mid- to late nineteenth century, feature illustrative vignettes conveying the bustling commercial atmosphere that characterized contact between foreign traders and Africans throughout the transatlantic trade.