Salt cellar

Unknown author16th century

MNAA National Museum of Ancient Art

MNAA National Museum of Ancient Art
Lisbon, Portugal

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


  • Title: Salt cellar
  • Creator: Unknown author
  • Date Created: 16th century
  • Location Created: Benin, Africa
  • Physical Dimensions: 19 cm x 9.8 cm
  • Type: Decorative Arts
  • Rights: MNAA Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, inv. 750 Esc
  • Medium: Ivory

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