Zulu Lidded Vessel – South Africa

Zulu woodworking tradition contains several types of prestige vessels, often treated with extensive surface decoration and sometimes elaborately composed. This smaller vessel, lavished with panels of striated incisions across its full surface, was clearly an object of status and was likely used to store snuff. Tobacco featured prominently in Zulu social dynamics and an eye-catching piece such as this would have drawn great appreciation from its owner’s guests. The snugly fitting lid features an intriguing trio of projections recalling a pair of ears and a nose or snout, echoed in the almost identical configuration of the legs. Together they lend a zoomorphic or corporeal impression not typically seen in this class of vessel.

Second half of 19th century
Wood, pokerwork
14” h  8.5” w
Provenance: Private UK collection
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