Southern Africa, South Africa, Zimbabwe or Mozambique, Northern Nguni or Shona , 19th or 20th century
gourd, copper and brass wire
Overall - h:7.50 cm (h:2 15/16 inches)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
Snuff containers made out of a gourd--the hard shell of the fruit of the Oncoba spinosa tree--and decorated with wirework were widespread in southern Africa. The shape and material of gourd snuff containers suggest they would have been made for female users. Like a woman’s womb, the gourd contains and nurtures the seed. Thus, the materials and the forms of snuff containers allude to procreation and fecundity.