Image Gallery → Dialogue with the Spirit World

  • Small Bag
  • Female Twin Figure
  • Divination Tapper
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel (Beer Pot)
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Diviner's Bag
  • Diviner's Headdress
  • Koranic Amulet
Lidded Vessel

Lidded Vessel

Zulu People
South Africa
Beer Pot (ukhamba)
20th Century
Clay, animal fat, soot
Gift of Rodney D. McGalliard

In Zulu society beer made from sorghum is an important ritual offering for the ancestors and it is also a refreshing, nutritious beverage. Women and men create coil-woven pot lids, imbenge, that serve either as a stand for a ceramic vessel, ukhamba, or a gourd drinking bowl. The act of offering beer, and serving beer to family and honored guests afterward, is a means of acknowledging the presence of the ancestral spirits and the importance of their wisdom in guiding the lives of their descendants. Bead colors and patterns are specific to various Zulu groups. The blue, pink and green beaded imbenge, for example, is a color combination identified with the Zulu of Msinga, called isishunka.

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