The geometrically-shaped body of this pin is surmounted by two female figures, each crowned with prominent parted coiffures, engaged in domestic labour with a mortar and pestle. Among the Kwere’s neighbouring culture, the Luguru, the mortar and pestle is used in female initiation rites as a symbol of the woman and man. The pin is decorated on both sides with intricate Swahili designs, similar to those found on furniture and utilitarian items along the Tanzanian coast. Over time, the pin has developed a smooth, worn surface.
Among the Kwere, elaborate hair pins such as this would have been given by men to women as bridal or dowry gifts. The gifted pin, a celebration of womanhood, would have been worn during special occasions.
J.L. Brain (1978) Symbolic Rebirth: The Mwali Rite among the Luguru of Eastern Tanzania, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute