Container, Possibly for Water

A work made of blackened terracotta.

Image actions

  • A work made of blackened terracotta.


Early/mid–20th century


Gur-speaking peoples, possibly Frafra
Ghana or Burkina Faso

About this artwork

The direct pull technique of pottery making is used by culturally interrelated Gur-speaking peoples such as the Kasena, Lela, Nuna, Nunuma, Sisala, and Winiama in Burkina Faso and the Gurensi, Nabdam, and Tellensi in Ghana, who are collectively called the Frafra. This vessel may be Frafra in origin. It was purchased in Burkina Faso but may have come from just across the border in northern Ghana, in the region occupied by the Frafra. Its shape—a round body with a tightly indrawn neck and a flared mouth—is common on both sides of the border. The vessel’s large size and narrow neck suggest that it may be a container for carrying or storing water, although its handsome embellishments may indicate a ritual use. Its surface has an almost metallic appearance, and its iconography includes a horse, lizard, and wavy and spiral lines. Horses are longstanding symbols of power and wealth in the region, dating to the fifteenth– and sixteenth-century invasions that heralded the establishment of the Mossi states.

—Revised from Kathleen Bickford Berzock, For Hearth and Altar, African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection (2005), pp. 78-79.

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa




Container, Possibly for Water




Made 1900–1950


Blackened terracotta


58.4 x 38.7 cm (23 x 15 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Keith Achepohl

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.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions