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African Art

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Artwork Details


Bura Artist, Burkina Faso


third–eleventh century



Accession #



21 x 7 inches


On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 410


Located along the Niger River in present-day Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, the ancient sites of the Bura culture have been excavated by researchers and found to include areas dedicated to burials and other rituals as well as zones used for habitation. Some of the most striking discoveries involved the unearthing of huge cemeteries such the one at Asinda-Sikka, where 630 terracotta containers similar to this object were found. The vessels had been buried with their mouths facing down, and many contained an iron arrowhead. Their placement marked the burial of human remains a few feet further down, and the containers took both figural and more abstract forms, similar to this object. The discovery of more abstract pots at sites of both ritual and domestic activity suggests that for the Bura culture, pots such as this one served multiple purposes.


Anonymous gift