Ugandan Cupping Horn

This is an Ugandan cupping vessel, made from horn. The practitioner would suck the air out of the instrument with their mouth, drawing out the venom, infection, or whatever else was trapped under the surface of the skin.

Karamojong Tobacco Pipe

The Karamojong are a Nilotic people of north east Uganda. Like other Nilotic people, such as the more well known Maasai, their lives revolve around their cattle. The Karamojong also use tobacco as snuff

Head-carrying Ring

This head-carrying ring is used in regions of Africa to carry objects on someone's head - water pots, baskets and other, sometimes very heavy, items. This  is often the most efficient way of transporting goods when there may not be access to transport.  To prevent spilling or items falling off, the carrier (most often a woman) needs an upright posture and strength. Head rings can help by providing a stable basis for round bottomed pots or baskets.

Pemba Island Stool

This triangular stool is the traditional style of stool made in Pemba, using goat skins. The wood is painted
ochre(red) black and white in Swahili style. The Swahili people live along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania.

Agaseke baskets

We have an agaseke basket in our collection. Agaseke are traditional Rwandan baskets. They are very intricately woven, and often used for gift-giving. They are a symbol of peace and goodwill for this reason.

Ethiopian Lion of Judah Rug

This Ethiopian rug depicts the lion of Judah, which represents the emperor Haile Selassie I (1892-1975) whose empire lasted from 1930 to 1974. The lion is also a symbol of strength, kingship, pride and African sovereignty.

Zanzibar Door Frame

"All over sub-Saharan Africa, those expert in the fashioning of wood, have put that high skill level to the embellishment of doors. If we start over in west Africa, there are the Baule people of the Ivory Coast. More known for their figurative sculptures, which influenced artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, they produced doors bearing mask motifs and divination aids.

Going further east, we encounter the Edo of Benin City in Nigeria. As well as mastering brass casting and ivory carving, they produced doors featuring the royal symbolism of leopards and mudfish. Continuing east, crossing over from Nigeria to Cameroon, entering the Grasslands region, we meet the Bamum. Like the Edo, they carved zoomorphic as well as human figures on their doors. Stepping out of Cameroon and nation hopping to the coast, we come to the beautification by the Swahili. Zanzibar and Lamu, were two of the East African city states, trading across the Indian Ocean, renowned for their door sculpting. Remembering that Swahili comes from the Arabic word ''sahil,'' meaning coast, so like the food and the language, the door embellishment was influenced by the people the Bantu encountered on the Indian Ocean littoral, such as the Omani Arabs and the Gujerati Indians. Popular motifs included the lotus flower, the rosette and the palm and frankincense trees.

These doors were for the wealthier residents, teak often being imported for their use. The poorer citizen would use the wood of the mango tree. A great example of Swahili door sculpture is the House of Wonders, Zanzibar. The two lions above the door, resemble an image from a coat of arms and the door is framed by a geometric design of diamonds. When I think of words like ornamentation and ornate, I think of the adornments to be found, on the doors and chairs of Zanzibar and Lamu."

Text by Natty Mark Samuels

Ugandan Drum

This nankasa drum is a Ugandan drum made from hide and hardwood, with modern versions being made with pinewood. It is generally associated with the Baganda of Uganda. It is part of the Ganda drum ensemble. The embuutu is played with the hands, which differentiates it from the larger namunjoloba, which is played with drumsticks. The nankasa is also played with sticks rather than beaten with hands like the other drums and it makes a high-pitched sound.

Traditionally drums were used not just to accompany music-making or dance, but also in tribal communities to communicate simple messages between nearby villages, or to call people together for some group activity. Churches would use massive drums to call their congregations to church.

Ethiopian Flywhisk

In Ethiopia, the flywhisk, especially of horsehair, is an item of prestige. Amongst the Kongo of Angola and the Shona of Zimbabwe, as with other peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, it is an essential item in the healing process.