The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 29, 2017

Snuff Container, 1800s-1900s

gourd, copper and brass wire, Overall: h. 7.5 cm (2 15/16 in). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2010.200

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.

Cleveland Museum of Art, (4/16/11-2/26/12); "The Art of Daily Life: Portable Objects from Southeast Africa" cat. no. 17

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