Africans have traded raw and carved ivory for centuries. Its lustrous sheen makes it desirable, as does the brute majesty of its source: Africa is home to the world’s largest elephants. Across continents, ivory objects are used in rituals—rites of prestige and pageantry rolled into one. Desired by a range of bodies—political, social, medicinal, religious—ivory sparks discussion of history and debates about ecological and wild-life preservation.
This exhibition showcases works donated by Justin and Elisabeth Lang. Visitors will discover how Africans have used ivory to teach morality, convey social standing, heal wounds, safeguard communities and commercially profit.