Vintage Kenyan / Maasai beaded gourd
This is a very unusual example of early African beadwork. Gourds with a small amount of beaded decoration on them are encountered quite frequently, but ones such as this which are entirely covered in beadwork are very scarce. Each of the beads has been hand threaded. The amount of work and the time taken to complete this is phenomenal. I am not sure of the origin of this, but it could be from East Africa.
This gourd has an attached stopper although the lower end of this has broken off at some stage, leaving the top intact. The flask also has a leather strap which has also split from use over the years although the beadwork on the strap is still intact.
From the close photographs you can see that the beads used are irregular size and shape. This lack of uniformity show that this is an early piece of beadwork. Some of the strands have separated from each other so the gourd underneath can be seen in places. There are also a few beads missing here and there which is to be expected and is another indicator of and consistent with the age of this piece.
The gourd measures 26cmtall and 12cm across.