Most Popular Curios Bought by Foreigners Visiting South Africa

African curios are sought-after by visiting tourists simply because they are visually appealing, completely unique and are the living remnants of ancient crafts that have been passed down through the generations.

The vast majority of African curios are genuine, hand-crafted works of art that are still used for their original purpose, such as wooden masks used for initiation ceremonies or the popular Djembe drum used to make music.

Don’t run the gauntlet of excess luggage in South Africa

Many of the more popular choices are rather cumbersome and often far too big for the backpack or suitcase. Instead of running the gauntlet of excess luggage in South Africa, it is rather more feasible to opt for dedicated freight shipping from your hotel or homestay in South Africa directly to your front door, regardless of the address.

Luggage shipping is the simple solution for those seduced by the mystique and sheer beauty of African curios, as it means the intrepid journeyman and woman won’t have to exercise restraint – good news for both the consumer and the local artist.

Authentic African masks

Authentic African masks, tooled and crafted by traditional carvers, from South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Swaziland and Kenya have, for many years, been snaffled up by international visitors. The masks are not necessarily worn by their new owners but instead feature prominently on the walls of homes from New York to Paris.

A fine example of an authentic African mask is the ceremonial Punu mask from Gabon. Although each mask is totally original, reflecting the different styles of each craftsman, all Punu masks have distinctly oriental features and are exclusively black and white. The eastern nuance of the mask indicates Chinese traders were living and trading with West Africans eons before European settlers even set foot on the continent. These masks were allegedly worn by so-called secret societies during initiation ceremonies and when punishment was dealt out for a crime.

Tribal figurines

Tribal figurines, from all over Africa are another legendary choice of visiting tourists. Again, each country’s contribution has distinct characteristics, like sculptures originating from the Maasai people in Kenya reflecting the deep reds and oranges of the environment, their apparel and even the dyes they use in their hair.

Fertility Dolls

Fertility or Akuaba dolls from Ghana and other West African nations, although totally unique, all have similar features. All fertility dolls, regardless of their origin, have large round heads, large foreheads and cross-shaped bodies. These dolls are gifts given to women who want to fall pregnant as ‘practice’ babies. The recipient is expected to care for them as they would their own new-born baby.

Wooden wildlife carvings

Wooden carvings of Africa’s diverse and exotic wildlife are another hot pick, as are the ornamental shields made by the Zulu people of KwaZulu-Natal. Pottery, finely weaved baskets, colourful bead work and cleverly crafted wire art items are all high up on the tourist’s ‘I want’ list and would best be transported to their new homes by dedicated freight shipping.

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