Five South African Artworks You Need to See

Works which most inspire Phansi Museum's founder Paul Mikula

Medicine Gourds and Healing toolsPhansi Museum

In the late 70's, Phansi Museum's founder, Paul Mikula fell in love with African traditional art in all its forms. What started as a series of personal items he bought from local South Africans grew over time into one of the continent's biggest African art collections. 

The collection now holds over 10 000 works, each of which tells a story. Scroll down to learn about 10 works which Paul holds closest

Muti gourdsPhansi Museum

1. Sangoma's Medicine Gourd

A medicine, or 'muti' gourd is used by clients to carry ground medicine prepared  by their traditional healers. This gourd is particularly interesting as it belonged to a traditional healer (Sangoma) himself who used it to carry his own plant medicines. 

Isicwayo / Front/ Pregnancy ApronOriginal Source: Phansi Museum

2. Isicwayo (Front Pregnancy Apron)

A beaded Zulu woman's apron used for her first pregnancy. After the birth of her first child, all beads are removed and only the leather is worn for following pregnancies.

Ukhamba / Beer potOriginal Source: Phansi Museum

3.Ukhamba (Beer pot)

A Zulu clay pot, blackened by smoke fire. Often called the black pots, these pots emanate from the heartland of the Zulu kingdom and are renowned for their bulbous, wonderful form and decoration that identifies the clan of the maker. 

Sicamelo / HeadrestOriginal Source: Phansi Museum

4.Swazi Headrest

A Swazi headrest made of sculptured wood. They tend to have a concave upper pillow platform,  rising supportive columns and a base, commonly showing some uniformity of shape or decoration according to the region, tribe or sex.

Ntshengula / Snuff containerOriginal Source: Phansi Museum

5. Ntshengula (Snuff Container)

A wooden snuff container with bronze snuff spoon attached. These containers are used to store tobacco, an imortant element of everyday Zulu life. They are used for communal festivities and seen as sacred public artifacts. Snuff is also used as an offering to the ancestors.

Medicine Gourds and Healing toolsPhansi Museum

These are just a few of the works in the Phansi collection which houses thousands of works each as fascinating and beautiful as the next. Learn more about snuff spoons, healing instruments and medicine gourds at through the  exhibits expertly made by the Phansi Museum curators.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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