Hollowed out and dried calabashes are a very typical utensil in households across West Africa. They are used to clean rice, carry water and also as food containers. Smaller sizes are used as bowls to drink palm-wine.

Calabashes are used in making the West African kora (a harp-lute), xalam/ngoni (a lute) and the goje (a traditional fiddle).They also serve as resonators underneath the balafon (West African marimba). The calabash is also used in making the shegureh (a Sierra Leonean women’s rattle and balangi (a Sierra Leonean type of balafon) musical instruments.

Sometimes, large calabashes are simply hollowed, dried and used as percussion instruments, especially by Fulani, Songhai, Gur-speaking and Hausa peoples.

In Nigeria, the calabash has been used to avoid a law requiring the wearing of a helmet on a motorcycle.

In South Africa, it is commonly used as a drinking vessel by tribes such as the Zulus.

FEATURED in Sketching & Drawing
29 May 2011.

FEATURED in Live, Love & Dream
29 May 2011.

FEATURED in Fantastic Primitive Art
30 May 2011.

FEATURED in All things Coffee on the permanent feature page
6 July 2011.

A laminated print

Recently, the Soccer City stadium which hosted the FIFA World Cup has been completed and its shape takes inspiration from the calabash.

I have three huge calabashes in my house, just for decoration! I enjoyed drawing and painting this one. I used charcoal, waterpaint, coffee and pen on 120gsm paper.

A mounted print

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.

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Comments

  • Maree  Clarkson
    Maree Clarksonover 3 years ago

    Got here and saw you’re not finished yet, so I’ve waited and refreshed the page a couple of times, and now I can comment! This is absolutely GREAT Liz, beautifully done, the texture is excellent! I’m also a calabash lover and have actually had some beer out of one at a Zulu kraal in KwaZulu Natal.

  • Wow! That sounds wonderful! Thanks so much Maree, you are such a great supporter! And thanks for the fav, always appreciate it!

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Sally Griffin
    Sally Griffinover 3 years ago

    Adore the colors and textures so much!! Very nice, Liz!!!

  • Thanks Sally! Thanks also for adding to your favs, I feel very honoured! ;-))

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Richard Huston
    Richard Hustonover 3 years ago

    very nicely done!

  • Thanks so much Richard!

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Pieta Pieterse
    Pieta Pieterseover 3 years ago

    Baie baie mooi Laaiza, jou kombinasie van media – multi media – werk puik in hierdie pragtstuk!

  • Baie dankie Pieta! ;-)

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • James Gibbs
    James Gibbsover 3 years ago

    Very nice Work! Different! Well done!

  • Thanks James, much appreciated!

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • supernan
    supernanover 3 years ago

    Great work x

  • Thanks so much Nannie! x

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Sue Ratcliffe
    Sue Ratcliffeover 3 years ago

    Congratulations! Featured May 29 2011, Great image!!!

  • Thanks so much Sue, appreciation always!! ;-)

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Maree  Clarkson
    Maree Clarksonover 3 years ago

    Wow, congratulations on this quick feature Liz, and also on your feature in Sketching & Drawings! Whoot whoot!

  • Dayonda
    Dayondaover 3 years ago


    29 May 2011

  • Thank you! This is a wonderful honour! ;-)
    Much appreciated Dayonda!

    – Elizabeth Kendall

  • Dayonda
    Dayondaover 3 years ago

    My full-face helmet, bought in 1980, cost me about what I would earn in 1.5 days of work. I felt it was worth it. I often got laughed at!

    I rode my Harley Davidson in sun, rain, snow… and fell plenty of times. So.. one good calabash might have lasted through one small crash… and it would have been a lot cheaper!

  • Lol! Wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing Dandy! ;-)

    – Elizabeth Kendall

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