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Shrine Vessel

A work made of terracotta.

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  • A work made of terracotta.


Early/mid–20th century


Ewe or Fon
Vicinity of Kpando, Ghana
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

The imaginative, asymmetrical form of this shrine vessel reveals the remarkable skill of the woman who made it. The piece’s semispherical foot, rounded body, plump neck, wide spout, arching handle, and openwork arcade around the shoulders are balanced in a bold, confident manner. Human arms lie across the bell of the vessel and when in view transform it into a voluptuous standing figure. Appliquéd images of a chameleon, crocodile, fish, and snake suggest connections with magical, transcendent beings. The object was collected together with several other similarly styled pots and is believed to come from in or near the town of Kpando, in far east-central Ghana, near the Togo border. According to one report, elderly women in the region have stated that such pots are no longer made or used, but were once placed on altars and were associated with very specific symbolic meanings. The Kpando region is home to people of Ewe descent as well as to later immigrants from the Akan-speaking south. The vessel displays stylistic affinities to both pottery traditions, evoking the Ewe in its stacked forms and the Akan in its low-relief imagery.

—Entry, For Hearth and Altar, African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection (2005), pp. 102-103.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Shrine Vessel


Ghana (Object made in)






58.4 × 35.6 × 42.6 cm (23 × 14 × 16 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Atlan Ceramic Club Endowment

Reference Number


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.


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