Terracotta container as a grave goods - Niger 3rd-16th centuries




Christian Eduard Franke-Landwers Christoph Freiherr von Seckendorff


In the Bura-Asinda-Sikka culture, living in northwest Niger and the neighboring regions of Burkina Faso, urns made of terracotta were filled with items of clothing and souvenirs from the property of the deceased and placed in the grave with the opening facing down.

This traditional ritual demonstrates the popular belief in the continuation of life beyond death. While working in the fields, farmers first discovered the elongated vessels in 1975, many of which have a similar, characteristic head.

Typical are the eyes in the form of coffee beans, the distinctive, straight nose and the slightly open, stylized mouth. In the case of the container shown here, the decorations on the wall with indented notches and knobs are particularly elaborate. The age of the vessel was confirmed in 1999 by thermoluminescence analysis.

Height 94 cm.

Schaedler, “Erde und Erz – 2500 Jahre Afrikanische Kunst aus Terrakotta und Metall”, Munich 1997, p. 70 ff.



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