230427 - Antique fragmentary terracotta Bura sculpture - Niger


Antique fragmentary terracotta Bura sculpture - Niger


This superb and highly fragmentary sculpture  are 40 cm in height. 

This Bura sculpture was collected in my private collection in 1999.


A fragmentary terracotta sculpture in the style of Bura, the hands touch the abdomen besides the navel, ornaments pressed into the clay on the body, on the head and above the eyebrows, sickle-shaped ears, a large, protruding and slightly open mouth, a short nose that merges directly into the eyebrows and large almost closed eyes with heavy lids; a reddish surface, partly shiny, the neck broken off and not professionally repaired, the lower body missing.

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

Africa-gallery is pleased to offer from his own private collection a rare terracotta sculpture from the Bura culture, Republic of Niger, West Africa. 

Discovered in an area northwest of Niamey and dating from the 11-16th centuries, these sculpture are commonly called “Bura” figures, a reference to one of the three tribal groups living in the area today. 

The area of West Africa belonging to the Bura, Asinda and Sikka tribal groups lies along the Volta River, which separates the countries of Niger and present day Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta). The greater Volta area is a region of vast cultural, ethno-historical and archeological significance. 

The Bura appear to have been sedentary agriculturists who buried their dead in tall, conical urns, often surmounted by small figures. Their utilitarian vessels are usually plain, while other “containers” - the function of which is not understood - are often decorated with incised and stamped patterns. These are their best-known art form along with a group of radically reductivist anthropomorphic stone statues or markers, with heads rendered as squares, triangles and ovals, with the body suggested by columnar, monolithic shapes, some of which are also decorated with incised patterns. 

It shows wear consistent with an age of several hundred years, including cracks and chips that are a normal part of the patina. Importantly, it is an intact original piece.