A beaded necklace drapes gracefully from the mouth of a gigantic pot. Its delicate beads glowing softly in the warm light, the necklace awaits its wearer. When worn around the neck, its magical spell will bestow protection, guarding against evil spirits and misfortune. A wide-eyed bull, accompanied by a friendly group of birds, looks on. The little bull stares with dismay at a broken necklace which must be quickly mended, since its protective spell is powerless until the circle of beads is once again intact.
This tableau pictures several objects from the African continent, the largest of which is a water vessel made by the Nupe People of Nigeria. Concentric grooves and subtle geometric patterns, radiating outwards from its rim, also function as a textured hand grip. To its right, lies a spectacular beer pot from the Zulu People of South Africa. This pot is known as “ukhamba,” and the libation consumed from it is “utshwala,” a local sorghum or millet beer. Utshwala is served during Zulu social events, including weddings, funerals and other gatherings whereby ancestors’ spiritual participation is sought. The small bull statue on the left is cast from brass by the Dogon People of Mali, to whom the bull is symbolic of strength and perseverance. The colorful beads draping over the water vessel and lying in the foreground are crafted of glass and are likewise of African origin.
REFERENCES: Nicholson, W. E. 1934. “Nupe Pottery.” London: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.