Ithunga: Milk Pail (KwaZulu-Natal People, South Africa)

Ithunga: Milk Pail (KwaZulu-Natal People, South Africa)

16 x 7 x 7 ″Hand carved of hardwood.Introducing an exquisite Ithunga milk vessel, designed and constructed by the KwaZulu-Natal People in the Province of South Africa. This piece embodies the rich cultural heritage of this fascinating region, and bears witness to the deep reverence that the people hold for their traditions and practices.

One of the striking features of this milk pail is the delicate motif located just below the neck. Often designed with a breast-like pattern, it invokes powerful associations with the female form, lactation, and fertility. These motifs are not merely decorative, but represent deep-seated cultural beliefs and practices, paying homage to the life-giving force of the female form.

It is important to note that milk pails of this kind are not used for storing milk. Rather, the freshly drawn milk is decanted into clay pots, while the pail is left to dry and drain upside down on wooden poles between milking sessions. In this way, these vessels not only serve a functional purpose but also represent the intimate connection between the people and the land.

This Ithunga milk vessel is a true heirloom, passed down from generation to generation, and treasured as a symbol of family heritage and tradition. Its presence in any collection is sure to evoke the spirit of the KwaZulu-Natal People, and to provide a glimpse into the rich cultural landscape of this extraordinary region.

In sum, this Ithunga milk vessel is a testament to the KwaZulu-Natal People's deep respect for tradition and their intimate connection to the natural world. Its intricate design, coupled with its functional purpose and cultural significance, makes it a truly remarkable piece and a must-have for any collector of African art.


Additional information

Dimensions 7.0 × 7.0 × 16.0 in



Hand carved of hardwood.


For Sale