Altar Vessel

A work made of terracotta.

Image actions

  • A work made of terracotta.

Date:

Early/mid–20th century

Artist:

Gur-speaking peoples, possibly Lobi
Burkina Faso
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

Across the Gur-speaking region, individuals and families establish altars to honor and commune with influential spirits. Making altar vessels is the work of highly accomplished potters. The spikes on these vessels reflect a practice that is found across West Africa. Among the Lobi, such spikes symbolize fertility, fecundity, and protection. On this vessel, a chameleon, a symbol of wealth, stands squarely on the lid used to protect the powerful substances within from natural and supernatural contamination. [See also 2005.235].

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa

Culture

Gur

Title

Altar Vessel

Origin

Burkina Faso

Date

1900–1975

Medium

Terracotta

Dimensions

43.2 × 38.1 cm (17 × 15 in.)

Credit Line

Arnold Crane Fund; Irving Dobkin Endowment; through prior acquisitions of Katharine Kuh

Reference Number

1998.520

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share