Ivory salt cellar from Benin

A bigger picture

Some experts think that the main figure on the salt cellar may be based on a portrait of the Portuguese nobleman Afonso de Albuquerque (AD 1460 – 1515). Albuquerque played the leading role in creating the Portuguese trading empire in the Middle East, Indian Ocean and beyond in the East Indies and China. In 1510, he captured the city of Goa in southern India and turned it into the hub of Portuguese activities in the region. Starting with another object from Benin, these objects provide examples of the spread of Portuguese trade and influence.



Ivory musical horn with Portuguese coat of arms; made in Benin, AD 1525 – 1600.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=626031&partId=1&images=true&museumno=Af1959,14.2+&page=1



Silver coin with the Portuguese coat of arms; issued in India, AD 1598 – 1621.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1021344&partId=1&images=true&museumno=1915,0407.51+&page=1

Cotton coverlet


Made in India (Kerala) for the Portuguese export market with European imagery for the decoration, probably derived from prints; early AD 1600s.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=235831001&objectid=1504207

Oil lamp


Bronze oil lamp in the form of a Portuguese soldier; found in Kerala, India; early AD 1600s.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=245944&partId=1&searchText=portuguese+oil+lamp&images=true&page=1

Ivory plaque


Ivory plaque showing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; perhaps made in Sri Lanka for the Portuguese market; AD 1600s.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=37135&partId=1&images=true&place=41016&from=ad&fromDate=1400&to=ad&toDate=1600&page=1



Porcelain plate of the Ming dynasty with the coat of arms of a Portuguese captain; from China, about AD 1580 – 1600.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=260548&partId=1&images=true&place=41016&from=ad&fromDate=1400&to=ad&toDate=1600&page=1
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Ivory salt cellar from Benin