Northeastern Nigeria is a center of production for elaborately decorated gourds that are used as household storage containers and food and beverage bowls. The technique used on the exterior of this bowl is pressure engraving, a method used by the pastoral Fulbe that involves scraping a design into the surface with an iron needle, and then filling the incised areas with a mixture of butter and soot. The inclusion of human figures in the patterns on this bowl make it unusual.
Hemispherical gourd bowl with geometric triangles carved with a cold knife, then blackened. There is a large figure in two of the spaces between densely-carved triangles.
Mildred A. Morton, Falls Church, Virginia, collected Numan, Nigeria, 1973 to 2000
African Mosaic: Selections from the Permanent Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2013-ongoing
African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010-November 13, 2013