This highly expressive vessel was designed and constructed of terra-cotta clay by the Bamana People from Mali. The pot features a large, beveled spout with two finger handles on either side, followed by concentric circles of notches resembling beads. Dropping vertically from these circles are necklace style rows of identical notches, surrounded by a field of raised bumps that are both decorative and function as a grip for the hands. Two whimsical, open-mouthed figures hover between the necklace strands, on the sides of the vessel opposite the finger handles. These pots are hand crafted by women known as “Numumsow” in Bamana culture, who are typically married to blacksmiths. The vessels receive a special treatment as part of the post-production, firing process that creates a rich, identifiable surface. While aesthetically pleasing, these vessels are primarily utilitarian (Frank 1994: 25, 29), and are employed to cook sauces, vegetables and meat.
REFERENCES: Frank, Barbara E. 1994. “More Than Wives and Mothers: The Artistry of Mande Potters.” African Arts, Vol. 27, No. 4.