Elegant in form and topped with the figure of a female head, these vessels were used by Baule women to store shea butter and other cosmetic substances. Finely rendered in miniature form, the face of the figure and the voluminous coiffure exhibit classic characteristics of Baule sculpture. These vessels would have been commissioned by families who could afford to pay a sculptor to make utilitarian objects for their home; other families commonly used natural gourds and shells to hold their ointments instead.
For a closely related Baule ointment vessel also from the collection of Elsy Leuzinger, see Leuzinger, The Art of Black Africa, 1982, p. 115. Another closely related example is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art (inv. no. 1981.175.A-B).