Tradescant Collection

 

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  The Catalogue: Ivory Horn  
Introduction
The Cabinet of
Curiosities
The John Tradescants
The Tradescant
Collection
Musaeum
Tradescantianum
The Tradescant
Room
Further Reading
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About this Resource
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DIMENSIONS:
Length 381 mm; Diameter (max) 96 mm
DESCRIPTION:
Carved from a single elephant-tusk. Ornamented externally with nine sweeping flutings terminating in regular scalloped ends, leaving an undecorated band at the mouth. The general appearance suggests that this was a side-blown horn, an impression enhanced by a slight thickening of the four flutings on the inner curve at the broken narrow end, which may indicate the former presence of an embouchure just beyond the break, and confirmed by the description of 1685. The integral terminal is now missing; there are traces of an attempted repair in the form of three peg-holes let into the broken surface, one of them still containing an iron peg. A small perforated lug protrudes from near the centre of the inner curve. Much of the surface is marked by striations from the carving process which subsequent polishing has failed to remove./span>
COMMENTARY:
This broken blast-horn or trumpet belongs to a small group of up to a dozen specimens preserved in early museum collections, whose common denominator is the scalloped fluting which ornaments the greater portion of the exterior. The fluting would appear to be a European trait, but it is improbable that these horns are to be classified as Afro-Portuguese in view of their characteristically African lozenge-shaped embouchure placed almost centrally on the inner curve of the tusk. They are usually provided with one lug for suspension, generally on the outside curve. The narrow or distal end (in terms of elephant anatomy) is carved in most cases with a crocodile-headed terminal. According to the description in the 1685 catalogue, this particular example terminated in a human hand-form. While it is difficult to assign the horn with certainty to any particular point on the west African littoral, the Ivory Coast seems the most probable point of origin.
Museum Id. No:
1656 p. 38: Divers rare and antient pieces carved in Ivory or Spurres from Turkey
1685 B no. 755: Lituus indicus eburneus, curvatus; una extremitas humanae manus speciem exhibet. In media parte foramen habet ad canendum aptatum
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