Osun: Shrine Figure (Yoruba People, Nigeria)

Osun: Shrine Figure (Yoruba People, Nigeria)

18.5 x 11.5 x 11.5 ″Hand crafted of terra cotta clay, employing coil method construction.Crafted with meticulous precision in the region surrounding Osogbo, this Yoruba jar exemplifies the unique ceramic mastery for which the area's potters are renowned. The tall, cylindrical structure is constructed using the coil method, a testimony to the age-old terracotta traditions of the Yoruba people. The vessel is gracefully adorned with concentric rings, harmoniously interspersed with alternating half-circles and serpentine contours. Central to its design is a human face, smiling softly, placed mid-way along the elongated neck.

Beyond mere artistry, the jar holds profound cultural and religious significance. It is believed to have been crafted for a shrine dedicated to the revered deity, Osun, also known as the Mother of Life-Giving Waters. This connection to Osun, a fierce protector, peacemaker, and symbol of war, is further accentuated by its proximity to the river bearing the same name. Typically, such vessels were intended to house river stones and water, solidifying their spiritual connection to the deity.

With its intricate design and rich historical backdrop, this Yoruba shrine vessel stands not just as an artistic masterpiece, but also as a beacon of cultural heritage and religious devotion.

Reference: Murphy, Joseph S. and Mei-Mei Sanford. 2001. “Osun Across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and America.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Additional information

Dimensions 11.5 × 11.5 × 18.5 in



Hand crafted of terra cotta clay, employing coil method construction.


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