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Storage Container

A work made of terracotta and slip.

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  • A work made of terracotta and slip.


Early/mid–20th century


Burkina Faso
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

Massive, wide-mouthed containers with narrow bases—some up to five feet in diameter and weighting several hundred pounds—are made across a wide region of central Mali, Burkina Faso, and northern Ghana. Too big to move easily, these huge pots must be fired individually. Once installed in a courtyard or house they occupy the boundary between furniture, by nature moveable, and architecture. Women use these vessels for a variety of household purposes, foremost of which is the germinating of millet or guinea-corn by soaking it in water. This is the first step in brewing beer, the sale of which can be an important source of income. Such containers can also be used to store beer, water, or personal possessions.
This vessel’s entire surface is covered with a dark red slip that was vigorously burnished and mottled with dark fire marks. The maker applied a crisscrossing roulette pattern in a band around the shoulder; below this, soft pitch was used to render two large stick figures, which would have been applied after the work was fired, either by the potter or by a subsequent owner. This container has been attributed to the Bwa, who live west of the Nuna in Burkina Faso and southern Mali.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Storage Container


Burkina Faso


Made 1900–1950


Terracotta and slip


52.1 × 69.2 cm (20 1/2 × 27 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Keith Achepohl

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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