Male figure effigy vessel
- Woyo peoples
- late 19th or early 20th century
This vessel depicts a seated male wearing a hat and jacket with carefully rendered details such as decoration on the shoulders, buttons, and buttonholes. The figure holds a flask for liquor in one hand and a drinking cup or glass in the other. During the 19th century, Europeans imported alcoholic beverages, which became African symbols of prestige; their consumption was a privilege of rulers, who were the first to receive imported products.
Woyo males did not make pottery vessels but carved the "proverb" lids that cover them. Voania (Voanya) Muba, a Woyo village chief, was thus self-taught or learned to make pots and model figures in another village. He sold his wares to his neighbors but made nonfunctional pitchers decorated with strictly European subjects for sale to Europeans on the Loango Coast.
Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.
- University of Iowa Museum of Art, Art & Life in Africa
Learn more about pottery in Africa.