Image Gallery → Dialogue with the Spirit World
Beer Pot (ukhamba)
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.