Container (abebudie)

African, Asante peoples, Ghana
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Ghana


Overall (total height): 27 cm (10 5/8 in.) Other (lid): 16.8 x 26 cm (6 5/8 x 10 1/4 in.) Ceramics (bowl): 30 x 12.4 cm (11 13/16 x 4 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art


Decorative arts

Asante men made figurative pots with human and animal motifs, while women produced utilitarian pottery. So-called “proverb pots,” or abebudie, such as this, served as vessels for an important man’s drinking water. Tortoise, snail, cock, chameleon, (which embodies patience), and a cocoa pod allude to various Akan proverbs and maxims. An incised heart and key are motifs that came from Europe. Keys demonstrate the control over riches that needed to be locked and secured in chests. The heart stands for honesty, patience, and endurance.


in black marker underside of lid: Y45


1982, sold by the Leonard Kahan Gallery, New York, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart