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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Komaland : Komaland Burial Marker
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Komaland Burial Marker - PF.4620
Origin: Northern Ghana
Circa: 1200 AD to 1600 AD
Dimensions: 7" (17.8cm) high x 2.25" (5.7cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Komaland is located south of the Burkina Faso border in Northern Ghana, in the valleys between Sisili and the Kulpawan rivers. The people of Komaland are mainly farmers, growing corn, millet, onions, tomatoes, and various types of nuts. Until 1985, very little was known about this mysterious ancient culture. During the previous twenty years, farmers found terracotta figures in the ground, but knew nothing of their history. However, their significant cultural and historical value was soon recognized by scholars. In March and April of 1985, a permit was issued to excavate the Komaland site. Since then more information about this unique culture has filtered out.

Conical shaped terracotta sculptures, such as this superb example, were used to mark burial mounds. Their curious shape was intentionally designed to function as a ritual object. The pointed end made it easy to be pushed into the ground, just to the level where the face remained exposed. This particular object has large facial features, especially the mouth, with its huge lips slightly open as if saying a prayer for the dead. The nose is small, engulfed by two large eyes that are wide open and watchful. Was this terracotta made to be a spirit "receptacle" to watch over the dead, or simply a grave marker? Such doubts only add to its mystery and heighten the interest it will attract in any collection.
- (PF.4620)


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