• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Barbara Allen 15 years, 7 months ago

 Powder Puff Container





  The San have lived by foraging (hunting for edible plants and animals) in the deserts of southern Africa for thousands of years. Because they don't really grow crops or cattle they don't need to own land. This conflicts with the modern feeling that all land belongs to someone. Some of the San foraging areas have been made into state-owned preserves and the San have been granted rights to use the plants and animals there. However, in many areas, they have been pushed from the traditional areas and "modernized".





The San know many different species of aromatic herbs. Each woman makes her own special mixture to use as a perfume. Originally, the puff was made of a tortoise shell decorated with an apron of beads, ostrich eggshells, grasses or roots. Filled with the fragrant herbs, it is topped with a piece of fur for applying the powder. Since wildlife authorities have discouraged the use of tortoise shell, the puffs are now made from a horn.

A gluey putty-like substance is prepared from the bark of a shrub by a woman who employs this to close the rear end of a small tortoise shell. Into the front edge of the shell she drills various holes, into which she threads small leather tassels. Rows of ostrich-eggshell beads are then strung onto these. The "compact" completed, the woman fills it with ground aromatic herbs and a fur "powder puff". 

Young branches of lavender croton are pleasantly aromatic; and it is recorded that Bushman girls dried these and then powder them to make perfume. The charred and powdered bark is used to treat bleeding gums. Although the plant is believed to be toxic, it is an important stock food in Namibia. It is also a beautiful ornamental plant with pale bark and attractive foliage.







The San live in the primarily in the Kalahari Desert and the Namib Desert so there are San people in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. Each government deals differently with the ability and right of the San to try to maintain their traditional way of life.

  Return to Exhibit Room


Let the object speak


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.