5 Reasons Why the Siwa Side-Horn Will Blow Your Mind

By National Museums of Kenya

1: The Siwa, the ceremonial side blown horn, is one of the most distinctive items of regalia from sub-Saharan African


It was used by Swahili leaders in the 17th and 18th centuries for ceremonies, including circumcisions, weddings, and at cultural events.

Siwa Side Blown HornNational Museums of Kenya

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2: This rare Siwa can be found in the Hall of Kenya at Nairobi National Museum


The gallery celebrates the country's ethnic diversity and vibrant cultures through the objects on display. The Siwa is one of the museum's most important objects.

3: It was made by skilled craftsmen in 1688 on the island of Pate, north of Lamu

The Siwa is over 2 meters long and made of two elephant tusks, copper, brass and wood. It has elaborate decorations and inscriptions.

4: The Siwa was also believed to have supernatural and magical powers

Among the Swahili people, the Siwa was perceived as a symbol of unity, and Swahili rulers served as its sole guardian.

Siwa Side Blown HornNational Museums of Kenya

5: It makes an unforgettable sound

A man would hold the Siwa with two arms and blow through the wooden mouthpiece, making an unforgettable sound.

The sound of the Siwa would be able to reach communities living far way. The sound usually announced a ceremony, and invited the communities to participate.

Musical Instrument by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

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