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Date: Mid-20th century
Medium: Ceramic, pigment
Dimensions: H x W x D: 21.9 x 23.9 x 19.3 cm (8 5/8 x 9 7/16 x 7 5/8 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Harold Rome
Geography: Grassfields region, Cameroon
Object Number: 69-13-1
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Object is not currently on exhibit

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 bowl may have held food or a condiment such as palm oil. The spiders decorating the rim are associated with divination throughout the Grassfields region. They represent wisdom and are associated with the earth and the ancestors.

Dark colored body consisting of a bowl atop a pedestal. Spider motifs adorn the rim and the pedestal. A handle rises up from the back of the bowl and a small one projects outward from the front.

Harold Rome, New York, -- to 1969

Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., April 22, 2013-February 23, 2014; Fowler Museum at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, April 19-September 14, 2014; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, October 15, 2015-March 9, 2016

Milbourne, Karen E. 2013. Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa. New York: The Monacelli Press; Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 108, no. 84.

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