Lot 3
  • 3

Bamana Terracotta Vessel, Mali

2,000 - 3,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • terracotta
  • Height: 20 in (51 cm)


Galerie Kamer, New York
Arthur Cohen & Elaine Lustig Cohen, New York, acquired from the above on January 13, 1968

Catalogue Note

Like other tradecrafts in Bamana society, the production of pottery is the exclusive domain of a small and distinct group of artisans, known as numumusow. These artisans were wives of the blacksmiths –numuw – who, in addition to their technical and creative abilities, were responsible for offering ritualistic protection and medicinal healing to their communities and mediating with the spiritual world. Similar to their husbands, female potters also fulfilled ritualistic responsibilities beyond their craft, including participation in important ceremonies such as baptisms, funerals, and serving as midwives at childbirth.

The large ovoid shape of this vessel helped to serve its utilitarian purpose. Women often carried water and other goods in these voluminous pots, and their sturdiness made them reliable storage containers in domestic settings. The bottom half of these terracotta vessels was formed using a convex mould, while coils were used to help raise the clay up to its lip. Evidence of the pot’s age, stylized outlines of three small lizards appear splattered around the shoulder of the vessel. While these anthropomorphic motifs used to be common in terracotta pots of this type, artisans have shifted to slip designs in recent decades.