Traditionally used by a Makonde healer to store medicinal cures for sickness and ailments, this fine container consists of two parts: a hollowed-out calabash ‘body’, and a carved wooden stopper used for serving the traditional medicines. Surmounting the carved stopper is a figurative head with a pair of white beaded eyes, and unusually, what appears to be a small elephant carved into the forehead – a feature that I have never seen before on such a container.
Strips of cloth, and two strands of early glass beads in contrasting light and dark colours, adorn the body of the calabash container. As a result of extensive use over time, the surface of both the container and stopper has developed a very smooth and oily patina.
Estimated Period: Mid-20th Century (Or Before)
H (Excl. Stand): 15.5cm
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