By Nii B. Andrews

Abusua Kuruwa is a large earthenware pot with a wide open circular rim surrounded by three figures – the perfect number of figures to represent the family.

James Kwame Amoah’s hand formed vessel exhibits a dynamism and symmetry that transcends the lowly material of which it is made and speaks to his mastery of the ceramic medium.

There are highly stylised upper limbs of the family that create a holistic rhythm as they delicately encompass the pot’s belly.

In addition, the inward looking disc shaped heads on the ringed necks create a graceful counterpoint.

The stoneware effect on the vessel’s surface is another detail with its own cachet.

ABUSUA KURUWA: James K. Amoah, terracotta, 57 x 32 cm, 1998. Private collection – purchased from the Artists Alliance Gallery.

In certain variations of the ABUSUA KURUWA genre, the heads are looking outwards away from the rim with more anatomical details present on the faces.

Within the traditional system, Abusua Kuruwa were used during Akan Royal Funerals to hold bathing gear, fingernails and hair of both the living and the deceased.

The pot is left on the grave or special shrine rooms to symbolize the union between the living and the dead.

James Kwame Amoah (born 1943) is a prolific ceramic artist who has infused new imagery into an ancient indigenous African art form.


His eclectic designs adorn homes, churches and numerous public buildings; they are also in several prestigious museums and private collections.

He retired in 2003 as Vice Dean of the College of Art, KNUST.

Amoah trained as a ceramicist in Ghana, Japan, Germany and Serbia.

6 thoughts on “PORTFOLIO – 21”

  1. It’s refreshing to know that our store of art and craft includes meaningful ceramic pieces such as the abusua kuruwa.

    Such pieces offer a pleasant addition to the national collection.

    Well done for bringing this to our attention.

    May you continue to educate us…….

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. SJ, indeed our archeologists have documented the pottery tradition “within Ghana” to at least 3000 – 4000 years ago.

      Think Dangbe Shai, the Forest Belt and the North.

      Have a pleasant week, SJ

  2. Beautiful work.
    I am not going to ask how much it costs.
    Is kuruwa singular or plural?

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