About this artwork
Often highly inventive in their forms, small bottles are made by potters throughout Central Africa for holding liquids such as beer, oil, water, or palm wine. Such pieces are often treasured personal possessions and are therefore appropriate for use in honoring ancestors, whether through the pouring of libations on special occasions or by placing them on shrines or graves. This exquisite example is believed to date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
This bottle comes from the Teke dominated region north of the mouth of the Congo River in what is today the Republic of the Congo. Bottles with similarly squat bodies and funnel shaped necks are found among the Teke as well as among such Kongo-speaking neighbors as the Kunyi. The flat shoulder of this work is an unusual feature that gives it a strongly geometric silhouette. Just below the shoulder, the body was embellished with several bands of roulette pattern over which the potter quickly inscribed a zigzag line above and a scalloped line below. Teke potters usually use a mold to build the lower part of a vessel and sometimes make closed forms such as bottles by joining two such pieces together; they then add coils to create the neck.
—Revised from Kathleen Bickford Berzock, For Hearth and Altar, African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection (2005), pp. 159-160.
Currently Off View
- Arts of Africa
- Republic of the Congo
- 29.9 x 21.6 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Keith Achepohl