Bamileke Palm Wine Calabash

Palm wine was also an essential component of sacrificial libations to the ancestors.
Tribe: Bamileke

Origin: West Cameroon

Approx Age: 1960-1970s

Materials: Gourd, bamboo

Dimensions cm: 50 tall x 36 wide

Ref. Number: knpc aag


Bamileke palm wine calabash gourd with rich aged red-brown patina with bulbous base ascending to the narrow neck for pouring; wrapped with strips of bamboo that form handle and a hand-woven bamboo base with an innovative idea of using a maize cob as a stopper. A really beautiful shape and styling of the strapping to hold it together, minor bamboo missing to the base. 

Used during ceremonies to distribute palm wine to drink and libate for the ancestors.


Additional images


These calabashes are very hard to find with a decent age unless they have come out of a collection of African art. These containers were used to store palm wine served on ceremonial occasions. The ritual consumption of palm wine was considered a sacred activity and reinforced the Fon’s spiritual and political power. Palm wine was also an essential component of sacrificial libations to the ancestors.

Palm wine plays a very important social and ceremonial role in many West African societies. In the Cameroon Grasslands,  a large cultural area located in central Cameroons which is inhabited by a number of related peoples including the Bamun, the Bamileke and the Bamenda Tikar, palm wine is used at funerals, a celebration of marriages, for performing traditional rites, and as a reward form the king or Fon to his loyal subjects on special occasions


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