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Bottle (Ensumbi)

A work made of terracotta.

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  • A work made of terracotta.

Date:

Mid–/late 20th century

Artist:

Nyoro or related peoples
Uganda
Eastern and Southern Africa

About this artwork

Gourd-shaped bottles like this one demonstrate a sensitive approach to form, proportion, and decoration. Writing in the 1950s, Margaret Trowell stated that such works were made in Uganda among several related cultures, but were the specialty of the Nyoro, Toro, and Ganda. This footed bottle was decorated by hand with carefully etched meandering lines. The use of gourd bottles, well documented in the region, undoubtedly inspired the creation of ceramic examples like these. Trowell describes the Nyoro as particularly focused on the aesthetic quality of the gourds they used as containers, noting that they “take special pride in the appearance of their gourds, and although they rarely decorate them, rejoice in the most perfectly shaped vessel polished to a rich red-brown.” Both gourds and gourd-shaped ceramic bottles fulfill the same purpose of carrying beer or drinking water. Towel reported that the ceramic versions were true luxury goods, used by the wealthy elite and also made for sale to tourists. [see also 2003.382 and 2003.383].

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of Africa

Culture

Nyoro

Title

Bottle (Ensumbi)

Place

Uganda (Object made in)

Date

Made 1950–1999

Medium

Terracotta

Dimensions

21.6 × 16.5 cm (8 1/2 × 6 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Keith Achepohl

Reference Number

2003.384

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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