Tsonga Snuff Kerrie - South Africa

Knobkerries were ubiquitously carried by South African men as weapons and symbols of status. While typically designed as utilitarian objects, they were oftentimes crafted with a great aesthetic sensibility, emerging as works of art in their own right.

This magnificent knobkerrie is a masterwork of southern African design. Its remarkably large, gadrooned head – possibly conceived to depict a fruit or gourd – offers a splendid focal point in what must be one of the finest weapons from the region we have ever seen. What may not be obvious upon first glance is that the beautifully carved head of this knobkerrie also doubles as a snuff container, capped with a conical stopper.

Late 19th century
20"h 5 1/2"w
Provenance: Douglas Barrett, London
Exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Published in The Art of Daily Life, Constantine Petridis
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