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The prized personal possessions featured in this book signaled status, gender, or age, or served as symbolic intermediaries between the world of men and the realm of the ancestors. Astoundingly diverse and limitless in their inventiveness, materials, forms, and styles, these works from Southern Africa defy specific ethnic attribution. Small and portable in nature-snuff containers, pipes, headrests, staffs, sticks, beer vessels, beaded garments- they were created by semi-nomadic cattle-herding peoples and primarily intended for daily use. Their softened edges and lustrous patinas are obvious signs of wear and tear. Whether figurative or abstract, carved out of wood, ivory, or horn, or made of cloth, glass beads, or clay, most of the works presented in this publication were much more than exquisitely designed functional objects.