Salt cellar

  • Salt cellar

    Salt cellar

    Unknown - Inv. 750 Esc

A remarkable and rare example of the pieces that arrived in Lisbon, in the 15th and 16th centuries, originating from the west coast of Africa.

This incomplete salt cellar is one of the first artistic and rare testimonies of the crossing of cultures brought about by the Portuguese Discoveries.

Using European prototypes, the ivory pieces from Benin are distinguished by their careful depiction of the Portuguese, with the artists detailing their physiognomical features (long hair, variously styled beards and slender, pointed noses). As far as their costumes are concerned, however, we can clearly see the marks of traditional African craftsmanship: both the clothes of the figures and the background of the composition reproduce textile patterns that are still ritually manufactured today on the looms of present-day Nigeria.