African Art
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Weaving Loom Pulley Surmounted by Two Figures

late 19th–early 20th century


8 1/16 × 3 3/8 × 2 3/8 in. (20.5 × 8.5 × 6 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Weaving-loom pulleys are used on narrow looms worked by men to produce strips that are then sewn together to create cloth for wrappers and gowns. The pulley is attached to two heddles, which hold alternate lengthwise warp threads. The heddles are also attached to foot pedals, which pull them up and down, creating a space between the alternate threads so that the shuttle carrying crosswise weft threads can pass easily through the opening. The pulleys often depict spiritual beings, masks, headdresses, and legendary figures. For some weavers, the form of the pulley may be an object of ritual veneration, while for others it may simply provide inspiration as a beautiful object.
Guinea Coast, Nigeria
19th–20th century
Tools and Equipment

Robert Duperrier, Paris. Sotheby's, New York, Important Tribal Art, November 29,1984, lot 264; Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn, 1984–2004; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Sotheby’s, New York, Important Tribal Art, African, and Oceanic Art, Including the Collection of Mrs. Wilfredo Lam, sale cat. (November 29–30, 1984), lot 264.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Frederick John Lamp, “Charles Benenson and His Legacy of African Art to Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): 37, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 170, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.