This beautifully carved ugqoko, a fine Zulu meat platter with its intriguing hallmarked silver rim has led us to speculate whether it had been perhaps brought from South Africa to Scotland by a soldier who took part in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). At least six Scottish regiments were involved in that war. In any event, it must have been treasured by the individual who had the silver band attached to its rim.
It is an unusual shape for a meat platter which are usually more elongated and flat. However there is a strikingly similar meat platter (inv. MA, 88/532) in the Museum Africa in Johannesburg, which has a silver tag [sic] attached to its base, inscribed as follows;
“Meat dish belonging to Cetawayo the Zulu King taken by men of Lonsdales Horse from his Kraal at Ulundi, 1879 brought home by T.F. Kinnersley, Lieut. Lonsdales Horse”
The outside of the bowl is embellished with the distinctive Zulu motif, the truncated square pyramid known as amasumpa. Before being used the kraal’s meat platters were propped against an outside wall, with the underside of the platters facing outwards and thus identifiable to their owners by the individual patterns made by the amasumpa.