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Jar (Wékéru)

A work made of terracotta.

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  • A work made of terracotta.


Early/mid–20th century


Baatonu (Bariba)
Republic of Benin
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

Among the most elaborately adorned Baatombu (singular, Baatonu) vessels are large egg-shaped jars with heavily embellished surfaces that combine delicate incising with bold modeling in low or high relief. Some of these, as well as similarly shaped shea-butter-fueled lamps, are decorated with inventive sculptural forms including animals and fully realized figures.
This jar may have been commissioned as a “butter jar” for a newly married woman. Central to its imagery is a male and female couple—tendered in an elongated style—that stands rooted in the swirling sea of imagery enveloping the pot from top to bottom. The heads of a man, wearing a chief’s hat, and woman, wearing a traditional headwrap, float amid the images of a large chameleon, a crocodile, and hemispherical beads, some linked together, possibly referring to the sexually provocative beads that Baatombu women wear around their waists. [See also 2002.625, 2005.240, and 2005.272].


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Jar (Wékéru)


Benin (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1900–1975




27.3 × 26.7 cm (10 3/4 × 10 1/2 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.


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