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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Mangbetu : Mangbetu Terracotta Vessel
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Mangbetu Terracotta Vessel - AM.0043
Origin: Zaire
Circa: 1850 AD to 1950 AD
Dimensions: 27" (68.6cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: SOLD
Location: Great Britain
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This regal terracotta vessel in the form of a woman seated on a stool is immediately arresting. It was produced by the Mangbetu people who began to settle in north-east Zaire in the nineteenth century. The elongated skull reflects a contemporary practice whereby the heads of infants were bound in raffia. The flaring, fan-shaped headdress is actually the spout of this loop-handled vessel, however it is likely that its function was ceremonial rather than practical. Only the elite of Mangbetu society could afford to obtain such items which were an important part of the visual display of power.

The majority of such anthropomorphic vessels depict women and this object is no exception. The figure has small pointed breasts and a well- defined naval. She embraces her rounded form protectively with her arms. This object is particularly interesting because it shows how the form of earlier utilitarian vessels was adapted to suit changing tastes. For example, the rounded central section recalls earlier vessels designed for storing liquids. The facial expression is particularly fine, especially the attention paid the slightly parted lips and clearly defined teeth. The hairstyle and the presence of a stool both indicate that this figure represents an elite member of society. - (AM.0043)


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