Wood and metal
Overall: 21.6 cm (8 1/2 in.)
Gift of Katherine C. White 1973.219
There are eleven species of hornbills in Côte d'Ivoire, where this bird-topped pulley was carved.
The heddle pulley, a working element of a narrow-band loom, bears a miniature sculpture. Heddle pulleys support and separate threads during weaving. Mounted above the weaver, the pulleys allow him to glance up at an object of inspiring beauty, rather than pure functionality. This pully depicts a slender-beaked hornbill reaching toward its belly and may allude to fertility. Besides inspiring weavers, these publicly visible miniature sculptures reportedly acted as “advertisements” for carvers in parts of West Africa.
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