This remarkable vessel is hand crafted from terracotta by the Makonde People of the Republic of Mozambique. In Makonde society, women often commission their containers to be embellished with attractive carvings that they believe embody their cultural identity. Such carvings may correspond to the style of body art (tattoos) worn by the pot’s owner. “This container is engraved with the emblems Medicago Sativa, or alfalfa, surrounded by scallop-edged, triangular bands” (Michael C. Carlos Museum: 2021). The surface structure suggests a simple elegance, and is marked by thousands of small, meticulous carvings within the circular and serpentine shapes.
The reality that water is scarce in many parts of rural Africa requires village women to make daily and frequently long journeys to the nearest potable source. Water is typically carried atop the head in such a vessel. Within Makonde culture, the engraved water vessel becomes at once a tool for individual survival and a channel of social and creative expression – meaningful for a lifetime. REFERENCES: Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. 2021. Atlanta: Emory University.https://carlos.emory.edu/makonde-water-vessel-0