Carved Wooden Leopard
This carved wooden leopard is a work of art from the Kingdom of Benin, in present day Nigeria. Within the beliefs of the Kingdom of Benin, leopards were important animals.
Tortoiseshells are by their nature good storage containers. This one was made into a box for holding tinder for lighting fires. It has been decorated with beads carved from ostrich shells on leather strips to make tassels that would rattle as you moved it. Making these ostrich shell beads – called onjeva – is a highly skilled job. It is very easy to break them in the process!
This snuff box was made by San people in the most north-eastern region of Namibia, called Kavango. It was collected by Percy and Christopher Powell-Cotton in 1937. They travelled in the region while Antoinette and Diana Powell-Cotton were travelling just over the border in southern Angola. The two parties even went to some of the same places but didn’t meet up.