The Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I is considered one of the main causes of World War II.  Nazi leaders used the economic and political stress imposed on Germany to push their twisted program to it’s disastrous conclusion.  But harsh terms have been exacted from the vanquished throughout history, leading to the observation that wars are never won or lost.  They just continue.

The victors write history, but the vanquished remember it…

Anyway, up until the mid 19th century in northeastern Congo and southern Sudan, another form of tribute was exacted.  Vassals were required to give pottery to their overlords in Azande and Mangbetu controlled territories.  This “tribute pottery” was a unique class of unusual, individualized earthenware bottle forms.  These bottles weren’t made for any other purpose.  And their makers generally specialized in crafts other than pottery.

Azande rulers in particular didn’t collect this tribute to hoard away or show off.  They used tribute pottery as gifts to members of their court, neighboring chiefs, and visiting dignitaries such as European explorers, missionaries and medical personnel.

By the 1920’s European colonial rule replaced Azande political power.  Pottery as tribute ended.  But the allure of what was formally a uniquely prestigious possession kept production of these forms alive.  The expressive qualities of tribute pottery allowed potters to explore whole new ways of creating forms beyond the traditional categories that previously defined their work.

It would seem that tribute pottery was a gift that kept on giving.

Just imagine the world we would be living in if, instead of billions of dollars worth of unpayable reparations and huge chunks of territory, France and England demanded shipments of Meissen porcelain and Westerwald stoneware in 1919.

First Art: Historic African Ceramics. Douglas Dawson.    C & C Printing/Hong Kong.  2009.

A World at Arms.  A Global History of World War II. Gerhard Weinberg.  Cambridge University Press/Cambridge, England.  1994.


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One Response to “Tribute”

  1. Art Pottery Marks | FACE JUG COLLECTIBLES Says:

    […] google_color_link = "0000FF"; google_color_text = "999999"; google_color_url = "191919"; Art Pottery […]

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