- Museum number
- Object: The Luzira Head
Terracotta head, of a woman or a man; hollow, with applied decoration and features.
Height: 17 centimetres
Width: 15 centimetres
Depth: 15 centimetres
- Curator's comments
There are no parallels to the Luzira Head in the whole of Uganda. Analysis of the fragments suggests that there were possibly four figures originally, which were broken before placed in a pit. The associated ceramics, and part of a polished stone axe suggest that the site was occupied for along period, possibly from the 2nd millennium AD until the 19th century.
The head is hollow and was probably completed separately from the body. The decoration and all the features were applied rather than being modelled on the figure. The applied clay on the head represents either a wig or more probably hair dressed in clay, a not uncommon practice among priests or other ritual practitioners. Below the head there are five coils, which could possibly indicate a necklace of some kind, though probably not of beads.
Luzira was the site of a shrine whose guardians were of the Buganda Otter clan (ng’onge), barkcloth makers to the royal household; a more modern shrine existed on the hill above. It is assumed that the figures were shrine furniture with the pots for offerings or belonging to the priest or priestess. Location of both the original and later shrine suggests that it was associated with the religion of Buganda around the lake where other shrines, mostly devoted to the lake spirits or nature deities, were also located.
T. Phillips (ed.), Africa, the art of a continent (London, Royal Academy, 1995) pp:140
The Luzira collection consists of a terracotta head and lower torso, about other fourteen broken terracotta pieces and more than one hundred pot sherds. It also includes objects such as an axe.
- On display (G25/dc22)
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number