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Chapter 5 - Day 2 Morning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2022

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Summary

MM40/69/1194 Grooved Stone For Ostrich Eggshell Beads

Figure 5.1 shows Gwaxan Cgunta putting on strings of ostrich eggshell beads that would have been smoothed using a grooved stone. She identified this object as the tool used to shape a string of ostrich eggshell beads (figure 5.2), and demonstrated the way in which it was used in a to-and-fro motion on top of the strung beads. Figure 5.3 shows a grooved stone used by a woman in Botswana to smooth ostrich eggshell beads, and figure 5.4 shows how it is placed on top of a string of beads on a plank of wood and repeatedly drawn down the plank to smooth them. The elders added that they would not use the object as an arrow straightener. We observed that unlike the stones used for straightening arrow shafts, this piece is made of sandstone, and the groove shows evidence of abrasion, highlighting the whitish matrix containing sand grains polished by use-wear.

MM40/69/1197 Horn Hammer For Shaping Ostrich Eggshells

An animal horn (figure 5.5) was placed on the table and the elders were asked if they knew what it was used for. They identified it as belonging to a wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), but said that they had no idea what its function was. Based on the striations and wear on the shaft of the horn (figure 5.6) we identified it as a hammer used to shape ostrich eggshell blanks. One of Fourie’s photographs shows someone using a wildebeest horn to trim ostrich eggshell blanks (figure 5.7), and we observed a woman in Kacgae village in Botswana using a wildebeest horn for this purpose (figure 5.8). Nowadays most women use nail clippers to shape the blanks.

MM40/69/890 Knife and Sheath

Tsamkxao ≠Oma and Cgunta Bo identified this object as a typical San knife (figure 5.9). We asked whether it was entirely made by San, or if the blade was acquired from another group, and they confirmed that the blade and the wood were manufactured by San. For the blade, they would pick up a suitable piece of iron lying in the veld – they said that white people leave iron wherever they go – or acquire it through trade with black people, or as a gift; they would warm it in the fire and hammer it into shape.

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Chapter
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San Elders Speak
Ancestral Knowledge of the Kalahari San
, pp. 59 - 72
Publisher: Wits University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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