Snuff Container

The soft, feathered play of light and dark over the surface of this snuff container perfectly illustrates the subtle beauty found in horn carvings and the unique effects the medium offers to artisans. A refined horn snuff container such as this would typically have belonged to a person of significant means and social standing. In Zulu society, the most important man at a gathering would be expected to supply the snuff, pouring a large quantity into his left hand and holding it forth for his companions to take without looking at them. When hosting his close retinue, a Zulu chief might call for his snuff box to be brought in a basket, from which he would shake snuff into his servants’ hands to be carried round to the assembled company.

Late 19th century
3” h
Horn, fiber
Provenance: Michael Oliver, New York
#490
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