Trumpet with standing figure
In form this trumpet could well be Ejagham (Ekoi) where side-blown horns surmounted by human figures occur, but the style does not quite fit, and a provenance further into Cameroon, perhaps among the Bakundu, or in the Bakundu-Balong area, might be more likely.
Krieger (1965: I, pls. 141-4; Il, pls. 251-3) illustrates several of this type coming from coastal Cameroon east of the Cross River, north of the Duala, which were acquired in the late nineteenth century. Salmons (1985: 59) says that, ‘throughout the Cross River region, side-blown horns of elephant ivory were used for mustering warriors and issuing campaign orders . . . The Ekoi [Ejagham] . . . tend to decorate ivory horns . . . with an animal or human head carved in the round at the narrow end . . . Today ivory horns are no longer used in warfare and those few examples still existing at the original field locations are important principally as chiefly regalia.’
The vernacular languages of the Cross River area are tonal, lending themselves well to the use of ‘talking’ instruments, whether clapperless bells, drums or horns; hence their suitability for issuing war commands. Such horns were blown after a warrior’s death and burial, though not if he were killed in battle, in which case his spirit might remain hostile to the enemy.
Figures on horns from the Bakundu region have similarly sinuous arms; here it is not clear whether the hands are joined or are holding a beard, small whistle or similar object. A suspension loop is carved behind the embouchure and A.67. is painted in white beneath the left side of the figure.
Margaret Carey, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) p. 166.
Purchased by the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia on the advice of Robert Sainsbury in 1979 out of income from the Sainsbury Purchasing Fund.
Title/Description: Trumpet with standing figure
Object Type: Musical instrument
Materials: Elephant ivory
Measurements: h. 255 x w. 55 x d. 40 mm
Accession Number: 742
Historic Period: Late 19th/20th century
Credit Line: Purchased with support from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, 1979