Bura Terracotta Head
Country: Burkina Faso
Size: 10" (24.5cm)
Provenance: Private USA Collection
The designation Bura refers to a group of archaeological sites in the Niger River valley. The Bura necropolis is a large circle, approximately a kilometer in diameter, protected by hills. Bura terracotta pieces originate from what is now Burkina Faso, the name "Bura" coming from the burial ground where the first archaeological pieces were found. The first Bura archaeological site was discovered in 1975, about 90 miles north-west of Niamey in the Volta River delta in present day Niger Republique. Terracotta pieces such as heads, urns and pottery are found in abundance in this region.
This conical receptacle with its evident phallic symbolism is sculpted with stylized anthropomorphic features of a coiffure, face, breasts and belly-button in relief, all minimal compared to the size of the phallus. Phallic funeral urns were made to be placed in the tomb of the deceased among personal effects such as arrowheads, lances, clothing, teeth and bones. Many such as this one were discovered buried with their opening down, allegedly filled with clothes and belongings the deceased might need in the afterlife. This receptacle may also be related to notions of fertility in the afterlife but there is no known evidence of that suggestion.