Shona Snuff Container – South Africa

The taking of tobacco was an integral component of gatherings both great and small in the traditional societies of southern Africa. Tobacco had associations with procreation, creating favorable conditions for growth and fertility, and was a powerful aid in communicating with the ancestors. Snuff containers were one of the most ubiquitous personal objects in the region, carved and decorated with delightful stylistic variety. This snuff container, with its classic Shona silhouette, is enhanced by brilliant wrappings of brass wire that contrast beautifully with bands of linear incisions in the dark wood of its elongated body. At over eight inches in length, this piece is an unusually large example of it type.

Late 19th century
8 1/2" l
Wood, brass wire
Provenance: Ex Seward Kennedy, London; Conru African and Oceanic Art
Published in The Art of Southeast Africa, Kevin Conru, p. 65
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