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For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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kanga

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Af2002,09.5

  • Description

    A rectangular machine-printed white cotton cloth, kanga, with a continuous border of cross-hatched black lines and floral patterns on yellow enclosing a repeating design of tamarind pods and seeds, also in black and yellow. Just above the centre of the lower border is an inscription in Kiswahili: KILA LENYE MWANZO LINA MWISHO - "Whatever begins must come to an end".

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  • Date

    • 2002
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 106 centimetres
    • Length: 156 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        Roman
      • Inscription Language

        Kiswahili
      • Inscription Content

        KILA LENYE MWANZO LINA MWISHO
      • Inscription Translation

        Whatever begins must come to an end
      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        D.NO 1505
  • Curator's comments

    kangas are printed and purchased in pairs, then cut into single cloths before wear. The bitter-sweet drink produced from tamarind seed pods echoes the idea of the transitoriness of life suggested by the inscription. Such inscriptions have probably acquired an increased significance since the AIDS epidemic took hold in Tanzania

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  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2006/7, Kenya, Nairobi Gallery, Hazina: Traditions, Trade and Transitions in Eastern Africa

  • Condition

    good

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2002

  • Acquisition notes

    Bought in Darajani market, Zanzibar

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Af2002,09.5

A rectangular machine-printed white cotton cloth, kanga, with a continuous border of cross-hatched black lines and floral patterns on yellow enclosing a repeating design of tamarind pods and seeds, also in black and yellow. Just above the centre of the lower border is an inscription in Kiswahili: KILA LENYE MWANZO LINA MWISHO - "Whatever begins must come to an end".

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Object reference number: EAF64769

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