An Adamawa terracotta healing vessel


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An Adamawa terracotta healing vessel with various plaited patterns, burled and perforated ornaments, the lower end of the face is a wide open mouth for pouring in essences, two arms are indicated on the side of the bulbous form.

The Adamawa live in northeast of Nigeria close to the border with Cameroon and have a striking expression of their facial features, which (with their open mouth) resemble those of Cham or Mwana. They are usually vessels for ritual medicine. Nevertheless, the figures are clearly different from those of the Cham or Mwa, which, unlike the Adamawa, have elongated lower lips. The Adamawa are hardly described in literature, although they have great artistic skill in the design of their figurative healing vessels. This is presumably the only known equestrian figure where it is not possible to say what kind of animal it is. It could be a horse or a ram on which the rider sits. In the representation of mounts, these are usually figures that were made before a long, arduous journey in order to reach their destination successfully. The model was based on the horses of the Western colonialists, who also came from far away and had travelled a long way. Thus, animals on which one could ride became the symbol of a successful journey, which were attributed magical powers and some of which were sacrificed.

“After a ritual specialist determined the cause of a disease, the patient was given a newly modeled vessel, into which the disease was transferred. Such pots, which tend to embody the symptoms described, are remarkable for their highly expressive and imaginative forms.” Source Brooklyn Museum, Vessel for Kwandalha Divination.

“The art of manufacturing and the knowledge of its use are reserved for only a few old people today; the young generation, brought up by missionaries, often no longer even know of their existence”, Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler, Erde und Erz, S. 271.

Lit.: Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler, Erde und Erz. 2500 Jahre Afrikanische Kunst aus Terrakotta und Metall, 1979.

500 – 600,- Euro

Height: 54 cm
Weight: 8,8 kg

Additional information

Weight 8.8 kg