This dramatic ceramic anthropomorphic vessel poses something of a dilemma in terms of identification. The general form is indicative of the Bankoni group, one of several groups in the Nigerian Delta area, and which date to the first half of the second millennium AD. The facial morphology and decoration, however, is more reminiscent of Dakakari grave markers. The body of the vessel is certainly extremely ornate, with relief spirals on the body and geometric incised dot designs on the neck. The faces are almost caricature-like, with their long faces, open mouths and incised features.
This vessel is potentially utilitarian, yet its level of adornment indicates a supra-secular function that was probably linked to some ceremonial purpose beyond our current understanding. If a Dakakari grave marker, it would have indicated the grave of an important man, and would have been worshipped and libated on an annual basis within a sacred enclosure.
This is an impressive piece of African art.
- (DV.015 (LSO))