Hand-Carved Ethiopian Vessels

The Borana people craft vessels using acacia wood for use in all aspects of their lives, from carrying water to welcoming guests into the home. 

A semi-nomadic herding people, the Borana move across southern Ethiopia in search of fertile grazing grounds for their livestock. The containers display a closeness to the land from which they come.

The vintage and uniquely shaped wooden carriers were both critical to their material culture and beautifully rendered. The lids served as drinking or serving cups while small notches and variations give character to each one.

Vessels were smoked to ensure water tightness and gave them smooth, dark finishes. Smaller pieces were kept at home to store milk, grains, and meats while larger lidded vessels transported water over long journeys. More decorative examples were used during special occasions to serve honored guests.

Whether for utility or beauty, each vessel contains a history of the Borana people and the land they traveled. From the shape of the lids to the color of the body, these vessels reflect their provenance through their detailed handiwork and the marks of well-established wear.

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