late 1800s
Location: not on view
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This whistle is the first piece from sub-Saharan Africa acquired by the CMA.


Carved out of ivory or wood in a variety of shapes, Chokwe whistles often bear miniature, stylized renderings of masks. Cikunza, the "patron saint" of the boys' initiation into manhood, is depicted with a pointed extension imitating the horn of a road antelope, symbolizing the fertility spirit. Typically such whistles were used by men during the hunt to communicate with their co-hunters and to call their dogs. They were either worn attached to a string as a necklace or tied to a spear.


late 1800s

Africa, Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Angola, Chokwe-style maker

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