Nka'a Ndü (Beaded Calabash Vessel)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Among the many kingdoms (fondom) of the Cameroon Grassfields, the central fon (chief) and a number of secret societies are responsible for the social rule of each kingdom. In close counsel with Kwifor, Ngwerong, Mfu and Takumbeng (the social organisations of village elders, nobles, princes and elites) the fon must maintain spiritual and social order and is responsible for peaceful collaboration between neighbouring villages.

As a sign of social status and rank within the community, men within kingdoms of the Grassfields (including the Bamum, Bamileke, Bangwa and Tikar kingdoms) possess a beaded palm wine calabash vessel (nka'a ndü). The vessels are used to store and pour palm-wine during important rituals that safeguard the wellbeing of the family, community and kingdom. The fon and his elite group of nobles also display these vessels in groups during important ceremonies and festivals.

Distinguishing Features

  • Stopper at top of vessel
      • Crouching animal, in form of leopard, elephant or bird, about to leap
  • Long necked vessel
  • Calabash covered with cloth
  • Coloured stringed glass beads attached to cloth
      • Red, black, blue, white and yellow beads used
      • Embroidered in various geometric patterns and motifs of royalty
  • Raffia bamboo base embroidered in glass beads

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