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A tall tree is the focal point of a garden in between two concrete buildings

Ghana, Komaland region

Funerary head

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Object Details

Culture

Ghana, Komaland region

Medium

Terra-cotta

Dimensions

6 x 2 x 2 1/4 inches (15.2 x 5.1 x 5.7 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of William W. Brill

Object
Number

91.001.035

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a terracotta anthropomorphic head from Ghana.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This head is(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a terracotta anthropomorphic head from Ghana.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This head is similar to many others that were found in Komaland, in the northwestern part of Ghana, near the village of Yipkabongo.HOW WAS IT MADE?This figure was hand modeled from clay. Little is known about the artists who made these figures, however, Asante women in Ghana traditionally work with clay.HOW WAS IT USED?Terracotta heads like this one appear to have served some sort of funerary function, as they were not discovered in random locations, but usually found in groups, embedded point-down in the ground, encircling a grave site.In 1985, the Ghanian government established a protected archaeological site, Komaland, located in the valleys between the Kulpawan and Sisili Rivers in Northern Ghana. The archeologists, led by a professor from Accra, found over 500 small conical figural sculptures at four separate mounds. After the dig, area farmers continued to find terracotta heads. WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?Many of the figures wear hats with a decorative band and a cowrie-shell form embedded in the concave top. The depression may have been designed to hold liquid offerings; the shell is believed to reference female genitalia.Although some of the conical figures exceed 45 cm (nearly 18 inches), most are smaller, such as this one, which is 15 cm (6 inches) tall.

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