This beautifully formed blackware pot represents a female figure, whose torso forms the bowl of the pot. The details of the hairstyle and the geometric incisions on the body of the pot suggest that the pot comes from the Azande who live just north of the Mangbetu. The shape of the pot is reminiscent of figurative Mangbetu pottery, most of which was made during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Wilhelm Junker and Georg Schweinfurth, nineteenth-century German travelers to the region described similar hairstyles of the Azande. Zande men were fine potters in the nineteenth century and well into this century. They may have inspired Mangbetu male carvers, who traditionally worked in wood and ivory, to begin working in clay. The burnished black surface of this pot is found on some of the finest examples of Zande utilitarian pottery, but the fine sculpting of the neck suggests that this piece was made as a prestige object. Such objects were given as gifts or used on special occasions for drinking wine.
Source: Ross, Doran H. ed. (1994): “Visions of Africa”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 142