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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Accession Number



Object Creation Date
circa 1890-1920

Medium & Support

7 7/8 in x 9 7/16 in (20 cm x 24 cm);6 1/2 in x 10 5/8 in x 11 in (16.5 cm x 27 cm x 28 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Throughout the Grassfields region of Cameroon, material culture acted as a signifier of a person’s place within the social hierarchy that many kingdoms in this area share. This included pottery as well. Many ceramic containers or vessels were—and continue to be—produced in Bamessing and Babessi. With large, local clay deposits, Bamessing and Babessi gained a reputation for their strong and elaborate pottery. Women created these containers, which were prized all over the Grassfields region by elites. Vessels with more decoration conferred more prestige on their owner, as did bowls with raised legs. As skilled potters, women made both utilitarian objects such as cooking pots and water storage pots, along with containers with more specific uses, like palm wine storage vessels. This bowl may have been used for eating or serving food, as suggested by the handles on each side. Similar bowls have been called ku to

References Cited: 
Forni, Silvia. 2007. "Containers of Life: Pottery and Social Relations in the Grassfields (Cameroon)."African Arts 40.1: 42-53. 
Gebauer, Paul. 1979. Art of Cameroon. Portland, Or.: Portland Art Association.
Homberger, L. 2008. Cameroon: Art and Kings. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World: Art and Artifacts from the Caroline and Marshall Mount Collection. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.

Physical Description
Round, clay bowl with a raised lip and a dark patina. Around the top edge of the bowl is a row of raised, semi-circular projections. On one side of the bowl is a handle decorated with two oval shaped projections covered with lines of small dots. Opposite this handle is a large semi-circular projection. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
pottery (visual works)
social status
symbols of office or status
women (female humans)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display