The form of this fine snuff container has been carved from ebony wood into three sections. A composite geometric pattern, consisting of rows of raised dot decorations and deeply-incised linear designs, adorns the body of the container.
Tied around the wooden stopper and pierced 'lug' is a cloth handle - material testimony to the container's use as a personal, portable object. A carved 'plug' at the base, which would have served as an instrument to hollow out the main body section, is a typical feature of Shona snuff containers.
Snuff, a preparation of powdered and processed tobacco, has been widely used in Africa since Europeans introduced tobacco in the sixteenth-century. The act of taking and sharing snuff, a substance connected to the ancestral realm, unifies the social and the spiritual.
British Museum, ‘Smoking and Snorting Tobacco in South Africa’