Berz Gallery of African Art

Sweet Tanzanian Ritual Gourd with Orange Beads and Fine Figure

Kwere Tribe, Tanzania

Composition: calabash, ritual oils, wood stopper, glass beads, fiber,stain, encrustation from shrine applications (figure originally covered in black) Dimension: 6.25" (15.87 cm) h Provenance: Ex. James Willis, US (original certificate of authenticity and ownership included with purchase) Description: Historically, these medicine gourds, with wooden stoppers in the abstract form of the female body, were displayed only on important occasions and used to contain oil that was rubbed into the young female initiate’s skin. Like all sacred objects, medicine gourds were not permitted to touch the ground they would be placed on mats and sometimes even on elaborately carved stools carved specifically to hold the gourd. They were powerful symbols of the unity of the clan, and regarded as communal property. (Ref: Kilengi, Univ. of Wash Press, Seattle, 2000)