Maasai ‘Kibuyu’ Milk Gourd

A typical Maasai ‘Kibuyu’ milk and blood gourd, ‘Kibuyu’ is Swahili for gourd..
Tribe: Maasi

Origin: Tanzania / Kenya

Approx Age: later 20th Century

Materials: Gourd, leather, beads, cowrie shell

Dimensions cm: 49 long

Ref. Number: 1001


A  Maasai gourd vessel nicely decorated with a leather strap for it to be carried , a cowrie shell and beads. Such gourds were used to contain a yoghurty blend of milk and blood, the staple food of the Maasai herdsman. They were treasured, mended when broken, and used for years. The interior would be sterilized by burning. This particular gourd i believe to have been made to be sold..


These gourds would have been grown by the Kamba people then purchased by the Maasai. In our “throw-away society” we might find it hard to understand why these people would take so much time and care repairing an object. Unlike us, they didn’t have the option of buying a replacement.  It took a long time to create this item from scratch, so repairs often take less time than making a new one.

As these were carried evrywhere and tresured some of these have been collected over the years with insised carvings with animals on where the Maasai owner would have personalised it themselves.

I believe this to be made for the purpose of being sold as it shows no tribal use but still a very pretty utilitarian item that the Maasai would have used.

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