Milk Container

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CRK 0115-9

Hima Milk Container, Uganda

H: 22 cm (8,7”), Ø: 19 cm (7,5”)

Wood, narrow neck, banded body

A superb example of a traditional, wooden, dairy vessel from Uganda. Made from a single piece of wood, the interior is hollowed by a combination of heat and carving until very thin walls are achieved. Fine, shiny and dark, aged patina in excellent condition.

The Hima, a sub-group of the Nkole, are said to be the descendants of pastoralists who migrated into the region from the northeast. The Hima used containers like these for the storage of milk.

The Hima tribe views their women almost like they view their cattle; an abundance of large healthy cattle as well as a large wife symbolizes prosperity and wealth. Brides-to-be will live in a separate village in a small hut (fattening hut) where the bride merely eats, drinks sleeps. Containers of whole milk are kept in the hut and the bride-to-be must drink a certain amount of milk each day. The sole purpose of the women living in these huts is to gain body fat. The women will stay in these huts for months and gain an unhealthy amount of weight.

Age: Est. mid 20th century – before 1960s

Provenance: Bought from private collection, Johannesburg, South Africa in 1997

Literature: Frederick J. Simoons, “The Antiquity of Dairying in Asia and Africa”

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