It was common for beaded pieces to include other items of foreign import alongside European manufactured glass beads, such as porcelain or shell buttons, metal curtain rings, or brass studs. The maker of this snuff container took fancy to a fine wooden box, probably made in Britain in the early 19th century. It is a very fine piece of Zulu or Xhosa beadwork from the Natal Draakensburg region on world_gallery:layered_info:encounters:africa:south_africa:south_africa|Republic of South Africa with a pink, green, black and red lattice-work panel. It also incorporated European brass buttons.
The gourd snuff box would have been used to carry around tobacco or cannabis and the useful chain of beads meant it could be worn around the neck. Among the Zulu, snuff taking was widespread and the containers were considered items of prestige and an important part of signalling wealth, but they were also related in their association with relationship building. Upon meeting, acquaintances would often share a pipe or exchange some snuff, so it was important that one’s snuff container or tobacco pouch was as beautiful as it was functional. Used daily, tobacco is always shared. According to (Costello 1990), for example, 'The Xhosa set great store by conversation and to pass a friend or stranger on the road without exchanging news is considered to be ill-mannered. At such meetings pipes are frequently brought out and tobacco shared.'
This is a very fine piece of Zulu or Xhosa beadwork from the Natal Draakensburg region on South Africa with a pink, green. black and red lattice-work panel. The small wooden box is European made, functioning here as a snuff box. and it also incorporated European brass buttons.