Very Large Maasai Tanzanian beaded gourd


This is an astonishing example of a beaded gourd. Beaded gourds such as these are made by the women of the tribes in East Africa but I have never seen one of this size or complexity before. Each of the beads has been hand threaded and in a gourd of this size, there must be tens or hundreds of thousands in total. The amount of work and the time taken to complete this is phenomenal.

  This gourd was from the collection of a missionary who was living and working in Kenya in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It has a removable bead covered stopper. A green cord has been attached at a later date so that it can be carried and hung up. The body of the gourd seems to have been covered with a deep red fabric and then the beading strands applied over the top. Underneath, the base is covered with a blue velvet type fabric. This item is at least 50 years old and although it is in very good condition, not surprisingly it has lost a few beads here and there over time. There are also a few cowries missing on one of the straps. This can be seen in the photos.

It measures about 41cm (16”) tall and 33cm (13”) wide and weighs 2600g.

This is a spectacular piece and would make a great addition to an ethnographic collection or an interesting decorative item.

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