Vintage West African Lidded Leather Milk Vessel

PRESENTING A GORGEOUS piece of African Tribal Art, namely, a Vintage West African Lidded Leather Milk Vessel.

Probably made in either The Congo or Cameroon, early 20th Century.

Appears to be made from some kind of very tough leather ….. the hide of an animal with tough skin like a hippo ! Leather twisted handle and appliques.

Probably used for holding milk.

This one is in superb original condition with only some natural aging AND it has a GORGEOUS natural patina acquired with real age.

The previous owner acquired it in the 1970’s whilst on Safari in West Africa. He also collected a number of exceptional African articles on his trip which we also have in our collection, now being offered.

Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria), also known as bottle gourd,[1] white-flowered gourd,[2] long melonNew Guinea bean and Tasmania bean[3] is a vine grown for its fruit. It can be either harvested young to be consumed as a vegetable, or harvested mature to be dried and used as a utensil. When it is fresh, the fruit has a light green smooth skin and white flesh.

Calabash fruits have a variety of shapes: they can be huge and rounded, small and bottle shaped, or slim and serpentine, and they can grow to be over a metre long. Rounder varieties are typically called calabash gourds. The gourd was one of the world’s first cultivated plants grown not primarily for food, but for use as containers. The bottle gourd may have been carried from Africa to Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the course of human migration,[4] or by seeds floating across the oceans inside the gourd. It has been proven to have existed in the New World prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus.[5]

Because bottle gourds are also called “calabashes”, they are sometimes confused with the hard, hollow fruits of the unrelated calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), whose fruits are also used to make utensils, containers, and musical instruments.

Hollowed-out and dried calabashes are a very typical utensil in households across West Africa. They are used to clean rice, carry water, and as food containers. Smaller sizes are used as bowls to drink palm wine. Calabashes are used in making the West African instruments like the Ṣẹ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀, a Yoruba instrument similar to a maracca, kora (a harp-lute), xalam/ngoni (a lute) and the goje (a traditional fiddle). They also serve as resonators underneath the balafon (West African marimba). The calabash is also used in making the shegureh (a Sierra Leonean women’s rattle)[22] and balangi (a Sierra Leonean type of balafon) musical instruments. Sometimes large calabashes are simply hollowed, dried and used as percussion instruments, especially by FulaniSonghaiGur-speaking and Hausa peoples. In Nigeria the calabash has been used to attempt circumventing a law requiring the wearing of a helmet on a motorcycle.[23] In South Africa it is commonly used as a drinking vessel and a vessel for carrying food by communities, such as the Sepedi and IsiZulu. Erbore children of Ethiopia wear hats made from the calabash to protect them from the sun. Recently the Soccer City stadium which hosted the FIFA World Cup has been completed and its shape takes inspiration from the calabash. The calabash is also used in the manufacture of puppets.


Vintage West African Lidded Leather Milk Vessel.

Provenance: From a Private Dallas Collection.

Condition: Very good.

Dimensions: 7″ Tall with a Diameter of 5″ at widest point.


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