Skip to Main Content »

You're currently on:

Search Site
Click on image above to zoom.

Nyamwezi Beaded Medicine Pot Tanzania African Art

Product #: 112944
US Shipping: $18.98
Add Items to Cart

Title Nyamwezi Beaded Medicine Pot Tanzania African Art
Type of Object beaded container
Country of Origin Tanzania
People Nyamwezi, or Zaramo
Materials Gourd, glass beads, leather and vegetal fiber strands, wood
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 9 Inches
Width: 4 Inches
Overall Condition Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair broken straps, dirty beads, small chips and scrapes

Additional Information: The form is familiar, reminding of the beaded fertility dolls of Tanzania, with wide bases and narrow tops.  But this is a bit different; the head that stands from the top is a long stopper.  The hollow beaded container is likely a medicine pot

The Nyamwezi are known for their carving that is at best roughly executed and relatively sparsely described in the literature of East African art.  However there are a number of uses given to sculpted figures among the Nyamwezi including witchcraft, magic and social entertainment.  Among the Nyamwezi powerful forces known as ‘bulogi’ are organized with cults centered around certain spirits.  This includes the manipulation of forces and the developments of cults or spirit possession in which members of the Baswezi society are possessed or mounted by the Swezi spirit.

According to oral traditions they settled in west central Tanzania where they presently live sometime during the 1600s.  Called “people of the moon” by their neighbors in Tanzania the Nyamwezi lived in large settlements and at one time in a number of kingdoms but today live in small dispersed settlements under local chiefs.

For similar pieces, see  Bacquart, Jean-Baptist, Tribal Arts of Africa, 1998, fig. a, p. 223. See also Kerchache, Jacques, and Al.   Art of Africa, 1988, figs. 807-808

Recommended Reading: Abrahams, R. G. The Peoples of Greater Unyamwezi, Tanzania. International African Institute. 1967;

Iliffe, John . A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge University Press.  1979