Our lovely horn homeware is hand carved from the upcycled horn of a native breed of cow known as Ankole, characterized by their unusually large horns.
Ankole cows are known as the cattle of Kings
For centuries, cows have formed the centre of the pastoralist lifestyle for nomadic tribes of East Africa. None more so than the sacred Ankole cow. Known as the ‘cattle of kings’, Ankole cows are indigenous to East Africa with many found in Western Uganda. Revered for their grace, beauty and above all their extravagant lyre shaped horns, they have long been a symbol of wealth and power. They are also esteemed for being able to traverse incredible distances alongside their nomadic herders and for their ability to survive long periods of drought.
The name Ankole is derived from the Nkole people of western Uganda, where owning Ankole cattle is a symbol of wealth and status
We love that a simple by-product of the agricultural industry can give us such a beautiful and highly sustainable natural material. Polishing Ankole horn brings out the depth of its multiple tones and patterns. These vary depending on what the cow has eaten. From creamy whites and light greys, to charcoal and rich chocolate, the horn is buffed to a lustrous finish. Each piece is also one-of-a-kind. This is because, just like our fingerprints, no two horns are the same. Each horn has a unique genetic make-up.
From field to shop
Ankole horn is very malleable and easily moulded into shape without cracking when heated. This is partly what makes it so highly prized. But how does it get from the cow to home?
Artisans first acquire their horn from local butchers, who discard it as a natural by-product of the beef industry. The horns dry for up to a week before being thoroughly cleaned to make them hollow shells and cut into smaller sizes. After this, they are boiled, cleaned and dried again, ready to turn into beautiful pieces of art. Sorting according to size, colour and shape enables artisans to acquire the right horn for their artistic vision. Pieces of horn then undertake their transformation through a multi-step process of cutting, carving, sanding and polishing. They may become earrings, bowls, spoons, keyrings, or whatever their second life has in store for them!
Ankole horn is a responsibly sourced, ethical by-product of the agricultural industry in East Africa.
For the small-scale Kenyan artisans who sculpt our handsome horn ware, our products support a sustainable and fair wage. By enabling them to bring their craftmanship to a global market, they can grow their businesses and provide a better quality of life for their families.
Be the change by shopping ethically produced items like our Ankole Carved Collection.