Nyakusa Beer Vessel - Northern tip of Lake Malawi, Southern Tanzania

Few art practices have the power to connect us to our forebears more than the creation of ceramic vessels. The ancient processof shaping earth into a beautiful and utilitarian form is part of our collective heritage and draws an unbroken line to our archaic beginnings.


Nyakyusa potters crafted fine vessels such as the present example for the fermentation and storage of beer.  An embodiment of beauty in simplicity, its form confidently balances generous interior capacity with a taut, parabolic poise in its silhouette.  Warm bands of reddish ochre pigment encircle the lip and upper half of the vessel, between them running a recurring arch motif (mahena) that calls to mind the image of a rising or setting sun.

20th Century
Earthenware clay with burnished surface
Height: 11 in; Diameter: 17 in (27.9 cm x 43.2 cm)

David Roberts, 2008  

Bill Simmons, Mexico

Item Number:
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