Snuff Container - South Africa

The silhouette of this lovely, diminutive snuff container suggests the form of a seed pod or flower bud. Its disc-shaped foot would have allowed for suspension from an earlobe or cord. The pair of tiny, bicolored beads kept inside are thought to be a method to keep the snuff within from caking.

Though small in size, the paraphernalia of tobacco supported and fueled powerful social forces across southern Africa for centuries. Through the rich symbolism of tobacco and the etiquette surrounding its use, communities were held in balance, in both the temporal world of the here and now and the eternal homes of the ancestors.

Late 19th century
3 1/8” h
Horn, glass beads
Provenance: Anthony Jack; Michael Graham-Stewart, London; Marc and Denyse Ginzberg, New York; Sheikh bin Mohammed al-Thani, Qatar and London
Published in Africa: Relics of the Colonial Era, Anthony Jack, 1991, back cover; African Forms, Marc Ginzberg, 2000, p. 117
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