Sideblown Horn

Accession Number

Sideblown Horn


Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support

10 ⅝ in x 1 9/16 in x 1 ⅜ in (27 cm x 4 cm x 3.5 cm);7 11/16 in x 2 ¾ in x 2 13/16 in (19.5 cm x 6.9 cm x 7.2 cm)

Credit Line
Gift and partial purchase from the estate of Kurt Delbanco in honor of Nicholas Delbanco

Subject matter
While the elephant no longer inhabits the Cameroon Grassfields and surrounding areas, it still remains an important symbol of the power and authority of local rulers. Objects made from elephant ivory, like this side-blown trumpet, act as prestige objects. As ivory was an extremely valuable commodity, ivory objects also displayed a person’s economic prosperity. Ivory horns often formed part of the royal regalia, brought out for use as musical instruments at festivals or dances. The figure on this horn has both hands clasped under the chin, a pose associated with royal retainers. 

References Cited: 
Geary, Christaud M. 1992. “Elephants, Ivory, and Chiefs: The Elephant and The Arts of The Cameroon Grassfields” in Elephant: The Animal and its Ivory in African Culture, Doran Ross, ed. UCLA: Fowler Museum of Cultural History.  
Homberger, L. 2008. Cameroon: Art and Kings. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World: Art and Artifacts from the Caroline and Marshall Mount Collection. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.

Physical Description
An ivory sideblown horn with a dark patina. The top of the horn is decorated with a standing human figure. Both hands are placed underneath the chin. Directly under the figure is a carved hole. 

Primary Object Classification
Musical Instrument

Primary Object Type
wind instrument

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
royalty (nobility)
social status
symbols of office or status

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved