Old milk pot, « elephit », Turkana, Kenya
Containers called “elephit” hold camel’s or cow’s milk. They are used for milking cattle. They are carved from a light desert palm wood and decorated with burned designs and leather thongs.
Ø 14cm (widest)
Turkana functional art
In northern Kenya, south of the Ethiopian border, Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolph) is more than two hundred kilometres long. Its region, in the heart of the Rift Valley, is one of the most inhospitable in East Africa. It is here that the Turkana nomads live, with an estimated population of just over 200,000 people. Cattle breeders, they are believed to be descended from the Karamajong, another Nilotic ethnic group living in Uganda. The extreme harshness of their desert environment has always pushed them to design functional objects that are easily transportable, made from directly available materials and with rudimentary tools. The “design” of most of these objects, refined by successive generations, responds to aesthetic principles, beyond the necessary functional characteristics.