Water Container

A work made of terracotta and pigment.

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  • A work made of terracotta and pigment.


Early/mid–20th century


Vicinity of Niamey, Niger
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

The urnlike form and intricately painted geometric patterns of Jerma water containers are rarely seen south of the Sahara and suggest historic links with North Africa. The designs, closely related to those found on Jerma textiles, are applied after a pot has been fired, and are made using natural pigments such as iron oxide, kaolin, laterite, ochre, and soot. Because these fleeting colors wear off over time, a valued container may be repainted periodically by its owner.

A short neck and large basin give this pot a sturdy appearance. Its body is impressed with an underlying texture that results from the mat that was laid over the concave mold on which it was formed. With its refined pattern and muted color, this container can be compared with a similar vessel that was collected in 1930 or 1931 during Marcel Griaule’s Mission-Dakar-Dijbouti. [See also 2005.223].

—Revised from Kathleen Bickford Berzock, For Hearth and Altar, African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection (2005), pp. 58-59.

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa




Water Container




Made 1900–1950


Terracotta and pigment


64.5 x 44.5 cm (25 1/2 x 17 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Keith Achepohl

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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