Overall: 45 cm (17 11/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1998.94
Elegant palm wine vessels like this were appropriate for Cameroon Grassfields royal courts, renowned for their sophisticated cultures of ritual and hospitality. Women in the pottery-producing centers of Babessi and Bamessing built such vessels by hand. Cloth-covered paddles and roulettes (wheeled tools) added texture. Curving between applied clay “ropes,” the shapes on the upper vessel are royally linked serpents. Pots were distributed far and wide across the Grassfields. Drinkers would have dipped buffalo-horn cups into the vessel, scooping up palm wine. This beverage was (and is) consumed at all major court occasions. The pot’s smooth, burnished interior kept it leakproof.
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