Collection Artwork
2000 1 25 pr w02
2000 1 25 pr w01
2000 1 25 pr w03
2000 1 25 pr w04
2000 1 25 pr w02
2000 1 25 pr w01
2000 1 25 pr w03
2000 1 25 pr w04
vessel for serving beer (Izikhamba)
n.d.
blackened terracotta
Gift of Bill and Gale Simmons
South Africa, Zulu, Africa
2000.1.25

Object Label

These two Zulu beer pots, while designed for use in a domestic setting, also play a key role in Zulu rituals. The Zulu consider beer as food for their ancestors, making the offering of libations a communicative device with the spiritual realm. They place these pots in the darkened rear of their households, a sacred and covert zone where ancestors might linger. The black coloration of the pots further emphasizes this association between darkness and ancestral spirits. Therefore, these beer pots function as intermediaries between the earthly and spiritual realms.

From the exhibition: African Pots and Gender (November 14, 2009 – January 3, 2010)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Mellon Collections Curator Rebecca McNamara.

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African Pots and Gender
Exhibition
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Containing Culture:
West African Pottery and Tradition
Exhibition
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