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Object Name: Palm-wine container
Place of Origin: Grassfields, Cameroon
Date/Era: 19th century
Dimensions: H: 51 cm
Medium/Materials: Gourd, glass beads, textile, felt, thread, wood, cowrie shells
Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.
Accession Number: X65.5815A
Drinking palm wine is a sacred activity for the ruler and his entourage. It is the ultimate social lubricant and considered essential to hospitality and conviviality, both highly valued in Grassfields royal contexts. Elaborately ornamented containers with images of birds, elephants, and leopards highlight the royal prerogative of drinking palm wine and are prominently displayed next to the ruler whenever he sits in state. The designs on some containers are typical of Grassfields arts and sometimes refer to the spider, who is associated with prophecy and clairvoyance.
Source: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014