Head Effigy Vessel, between 1300 and 1500

  • Mississippian, Native American

Buffware with red slip pigment

  • Framed: Overall: 6 3/8 × 7 × 7 1/4 inches (16.2 × 17.8 × 18.4 cm)

Founders Society Purchase with funds from the Mary G. and Robert H. Flint Foundation


On View

  • Native American S1EE


Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas

  • Mississippian
  • Polychromy
  • Incising
  • Clay
  • Pigment
  • Slip
  • Earthenware
  • Tattoos
  • Man
  • Effigy
  • Figure (representation)
  • Vessel
  • Pemiscot
  • Head (animal or human component)
  • Head

The Head Effigy Vessel addresses an ongoing relationship between the worlds of the living and the dead. The pot depicts the head and the face of a deceased ancestor, a spiritually endowed leader, whose physical remains are laden with spiritual power. "Power" has the ability to ward off disease, to increase good fortune, or to cause benefit or destruction depending upon how it is used.


1978/1979, found on the Campbell site (Pemiscot County, Missouri, USA); Joe Holly (USA). (Tony Berlant, Sun Circles, Santa Monica, California, USA); 1986-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Published References

Westbrook, Kent C. Legacy in Clay: Prehistoric Ceramic Art of Arkansas. Little Rock, 1982, p. 43, no. 32. "Notes on recent acquisitions." Bulletin of the DIA 64, no. 1 (1988): 56 (ill.). Penney, David W. and George C. Longfish. Native American Art. Southport, CT, 1994, p. 32.

Rights Status

Mississippian, Native American, Head Effigy Vessel, between 1300 and 1500, buffware with red slip pigment. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase with funds from the Mary G. and Robert H. Flint Foundation, 1986.43.