Democratic Republic of the Congo
H. 3 x D. 3/4 x W. 1 in. (7.6 x 1.9 x 2.5 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1972
Ivories are made by professional sculptors to be worn as decorative pendants. While its texture and resistance to cracking make elephant ivory the material of choice, the thighbones of hippopotamuses allow artists to achieve comparable effects. Bodily contact through wear alters the whiteness of the pendants. Although this effect is prized by Western collectors, the ornament's surface is scrubbed daily with water and abrasive sand, which blurs the features over time.