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Beer Vessel

Marvelous contrasts of color and texture make this beer pot visually exciting: the smooth, shiny charcoal stripes complement the roughly incised pinkish ones. The Tumbuka are one of the several peoples in eastern and southern Africa who create a dark glossy effect on their ceramics by burnishing graphite into the leather-hard clay before a pot is fired. In addition to the surface decoration, the pot’s form is also noteworthy: the successful building of the flat, broad shoulders of the vessel indicate a potter who is the master of her medium.

Tumbuka peoples, Malawi
Beer Vessel
20th century
Clay, pigment, graphite
Diam. 20 in. (50.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of William Itter, 2009.72