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Water or Storage Container

A work made of terracotta and slip.

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  • A work made of terracotta and slip.


Early/mid–20th century


Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

Hausa potters use a convex mold to shape the base of their pots, adding coils to complete the form. On this large and handsome container, a dimpled line indicates the seam where coils began to be joined with the molded lower half.
Hausa potter is often noted for its straightforward, relatively unadorned appearance. A potter’s subtle finesse becomes evident in the volumes and proportions of his or her work, as here in the slight bowing of the columnar neck and its relationship to the rounded base. These forms are complemented by understated embellishment: spiraling, diagonal lines were applied by roulette at the shoulder, and a band of round indentations were impressed with the pad of a finger where base and neck meet. The container’s tall neck is scored with vertical grooves, the result of vigorous burnishing with a string of baobab seeds. Shorter burnishing lines also mark the body. This action heightened the red color of the slip that was applied to the vessel before firing.
The nicks and abrasions that mark the surface bear witness to its many years of use. It is reportedly from Niger and may have served as a water container, possibly in a mosque, where it would have held water for washing before prayer. Similar vessels are also used to store grain or other staples.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Water or Storage Container




Made 1900–1950


Terracotta and slip


69.9 × 47 cm (27 1/2 × 18 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Keith Achepohl

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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