African potters--primarily women--handbuild a variety of vessels that they embellish with beautiful colors, designs and motifs before firing them at low temperatures. Containers made for daily use hold water or serve as cooking utensils. They also make vessels to be used in special ceremonies or that become part of an assemblage of objects placed in a shrine.
This vessel resembles a gourd. Its form is further enhanced by metal appliques, attached like pieces of fine jewelry, to its mouth, neck and shoulders. The artist combines a feel for materials with geometric patterns and design. For example, the metal circles and triangles grouped in multiples of three, four or more are striking. Distributed with geometric precision, these patterns may touch upon Islamic notions of the cosmos and the sanctity of visual order and repetition.
Ceramic vessel in the shape of a gourd with a spherical body and top in the shape of a bowl. Diamond shaped motifs and parallel incised designs cover the surface as well as metal overlay at the rim, neck and shoulder. Parts of the surface are not covered with metal and are colored with red and possibly indigo pigment.
William Wright, New York, -- to 1982
Currents: Water in African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 2016-ongoing
Patterns and Forms, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., August 20-September 16, 1984
African Islam, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 29, 1983-April 22, 1984
From the Earth: African Ceramic Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 17-October 9, 1983
Bravmann, Rene. 1983. African Islam. London: Ethnographica; Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, no. 79, p. 100.
Freyer, Bryna and Edward Lifschitz. 1983. From the Earth: African Ceramic Art. Exhibition brochure. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, front cover.
Turner, Jane (ed). 1996. "Africa." The Dictionary of Art, Vol. 1. New York: Grove, p. 369, no. 107.