Pottery cup

Black polished incised cup

Height: 8.900 cm
Diameter: 6.000 cm

EA 51211

The handmade pottery produced by C-Group craftsmen is highly distinctive. This cup has the features of their characteristic 'polished incised ware'. It has a round bottom and is bowl-shaped, although it is small enough to be considered a cup and was probably designed to hold food and drink.

The cup's exterior is incised with diamonds filled with cross hatching, perhaps derived from designs used in basket work. Other motifs include herringbone patterns and other geometric shapes with smooth and incised areas. The incised decoration was applied to the pot before the clay was dry. The vessel was fired to leave a black or sometimes a red finish, which was highly polished. Finally, white pigment was rubbed into the incisions to make the pattern stand out. The remains of the white pigment can be seen in some areas on this cup, but most is now lost.

The C-Group culture developed around 2300 BC and their economy was based on rearing animals, mainly cattle. Permanent settlements multiplied, the more advanced ones containing stone houses, and chiefdoms emerged. Jewellery of bone, shell, stone and faience was made and leather garments were worn. Chiefs traded peacefully with the Egyptians until they gained political domination and C-Group traditions died out by around 1600 BC.

On display: Room 65: Sudan, Egypt & Nubia