Fang Trumpet (Oliphant) – Gabon

Side-blown trumpets made of animal horn or tusk, known as oliphants, are found throughout Africa. They often symbolize kingly power, and those associated with royal ensembles are decorated with skins, wooden extensions and carvings. Oliphants were used to accompany dances or to signal the king’s entrance and departure.

This graceful ivory oliphant from the Fang tribe was carved from the tip of a tusk. At the peak of the instrument’s gentle arc is found a double-janiform terminal bearing four soft faces, worn smooth with use. A rich, warm color of age has enriched the surface and luster of this trumpet with a sensual depth. The custom base for this work was crafted by Inagaki in the 1920s.


19th century
17” h
Provenance: J.J. Klejman; Dr. Malcolm Hardy, Chapel Hill, NC
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