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Funerary Head

Artist/Maker: Akan people (Ghana)

Date: late 19th century
Medium: pottery
Dimensions:
Overall: 12 × 9 3/4 × 9 7/8 in. (30.5 × 24.8 × 25.1 cm)
Classification: Art Works
Credit Line: Gift of Alan Potamkin
Terms
Object number: 2007.48.10
DescriptionMemorial terracotta heads, or sometimes entire figures in terracotta, are placed near Akan cemeteries, called “place of pots." The practice seems to have been mainly found among the southern Akan peoples in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The oldest know terracotta memorial heads date from around the 15th century and the arrival of the Portuguese. Some scholars have suggested the heads might have been inspired by European use of figures of Saints; however, using terracotta heads and figures in funerary or burial contexts seems to be an indigenous and widespread African practice.
On view
In Collection(s)