This unique, beer drinking vessel was designed and constructed of terra cotta clay by the Lobi People of modern day Burkino Faso. The vessel is crowned by two, thickly beveled circles embellished with phallic appendages staggered on their surfaces. Underneath lie a thick array of raised bumps that comprise the majority of the object, functioning both aesthetically and as a hand grip while holding. Paramount in Lobi culture are animistic beliefs that are embodied in functional objects such as this drinking vessel. These beliefs are linked to the form of the object, material employed (terra-cotta, for example), as well as the nature of the spirit represented. In animist rituals of the Lobi, this libation-filled vessel serves as a conduit for interaction (“thila” and “kontuoursi”) with ancestral spirits. Interestingly, in this culture, craftsmen do not ply their trade primarily for economic return. They believe it is their cultural duty to maintain the spirits’ happiness.
REFERENCES: Gundlach, Cory Keith. 2012. The River and the Shrine: Lobi Art and Sense of Place in Southwest Burkina Faso. Iowa City: Iowa Research Online.