220938 - Antique Terracotta Bura Funerary vessel top head - Niger


Antique Terracotta Bura Funerary vessel top head - Niger

This superb and highly characteristic vessel top measures 12 cm in height and with stand 15 cm

This Bura head was collected in my private collection in 2002.

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

Discovered in an area northwest of Niamey and dating from the 11-16th centuries, these figurative funerary vessel tops 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.