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Gourd container used for divination, Kenya, 1871-1900

The seeds and flesh of the gourd have been removed. The remaining hard shell has been used as a container for pebbles used in divination. The gourd or calabash belonged to a healer, sometimes called a medicine man, of the Akikuya tribe of Kenya. The gourd was donated to the Wellcome collections in 1929 by renowned Kenyan archaeologist Louis S B Leakey (1903–1972). As well as his broader work on the African origins of human evolution, Leakey investigated the social and cultural customs of the Akikuya tribe.

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    Glossary: medicine man

    No description.

    Glossary: gourd

    The ornamental, hard-shelled fruit of a vine.Hollowed gourds can be used as a number of things, including bowls or bottles.

    Glossary: divination

    The practice of seeking knowledge of the future through the interpretation of omens or other supernatural means.