By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mangbetu artist

Anthropomorphic pot


H. 27 cm (10 5/8")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1986.555

Although figurative pots like this one are among the best-known types of Mangbetu art, they may represent a brief and anomalous phase of ceramic production. Such pots were collected for a limited amount of time, soon after European traders, soldiers, and government officials began interacting with the Mangbetu kingdom (during the first decade of the twentieth century). The first Western visitors to the region admired the skillfully designed and decorated pottery of the Mangbetu, but none made note of anthropomorphic pots (Schildkrout 1990: 112).