This bracelet is a typical West African ornament made of elephant ivory. It is 101 mm in diameter, having been carved from a slice of elephant tusk. When the Portuguese and then other Europeans began trading in ivory it became linked to the slave trade. Captured Africans were used to carry ivory from the interior to the coast, where both would be sold. A tusk was worth two to three times the price of a slave. With changing attitudes towards hunting and because African elephants are now in danger of extinction, the trade in ivory is now banned.
Until recently, many commentators on Africa claimed that African societies had no tradition of writing. Read more...