nigeria, moesgaard museum, de etnografiske samlinger, ethnography, collections, museum, aarhus, denmark

Calabash – Nigeria

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So, you know how we often expect men to do the hard physical labour and women the more delicate stuff. Well, when it comes to this calabash, those roles are turned around.

Nigerian women use their calabashes to carry food and other goods on their necks, the men, however, get to decorate them, burning different patterns and motives onto the large bowls, leaving the women to do the carrying. Calabashes are made from dried gourds, which is a plant belonging to the squash family.

This particular calabash is decorated with a motive of a horse and its rider, who is holding a sable. On the other side we find a camel. Ethnologist Mette Bovin bought the calabash from an elderly Kanuri man at a marked in Maiduguri, Nigeria back in 1975.

If you ever come by a woman carrying one around, make sure to pay her a compliment by saying “Kwarda, da kyau!” which is Hausa for “Your calabash is beautiful!”

// Emma Louise Pedersen


Photo: © 2007 Photo/Media Department of Moesgaard Museum.

Byline portrait: © 2015 Line Beck,

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