A young boy stands at the base of the clay pit where potters from Bondakile mine the clay they use for making pottery. Soils from upper and lower levels are mixed together to make a workable potting clay. Children help relatives who are potters to dig and process the clay. Two photos. Bondakile, October, 1982.
After drying, potting clay is stored in potters' houses until needed. When the potter is ready to make a batch of clay pots, she will first pound and then sift the clay. The sifted clay is then mixed with water and kneaded until it is the right consistency for making a pot. Dorbour, 1994
Yakosua, a Nafana potter, mixes sifted potting clay with water in preparation for making a batch of clay pots. One large metal pot (left) contains the pounded, sifted clay and the other (right) contains water that she mixes with the clay. She mixes the two in a headpan, kneading the clay to achieve the right consistency for making pots. Dorbour, 1994.
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Women's work; Metal pots; Clay; Dorbour; Headpans; Potting
Potting clay is spread to dry after being mined and brought to Dorbour by a potter, perhaps aided by her relatives. The clay includes a combination of plastic clay (chͻklͻlͻ in Nafaanra) and sandy clay (sisa in Nafaanra) which are mixed together at the place where the clay is mined. After drying, the clay will be pounded, sifted, mixed with water and kneaded until the clay is the right consistency. A potter only mixes as much clay as she needs to make a batch of pots (6-8). Children may help with the work of pounding and kneading the clay. In the background, houses made of atakpame (coursed earthen-walls) with thatched roofs are visible. Dorbour, 1994.
A man transports a clay pot, carefully strapped to the back of his bicycle and cushioned beneath by coiled grass leaves. He is returning from one of the potting villages where hs has purchased the clay jar from a potter. More often, pottery was taken to markets by headloading, sometimes sold by potters, but also by women who traded in clay pots. Banda area, 1994.
This short Banda Heritage video made from still photographic images illustrates the potting techniques of Banda-area potters. It highlights the steps in their draw-and-drag forming method and the tools they use. Among the Nafana potters pictured in the video are Yaa Tenabrɛ, Adwoa Fodjoa, Peni Krah and Ama Donkor from Dorbour. Also pictured is a potter from Adadiem (1994) and an image from Bondakile (1982). Original images used to make the video are available in the Banda Heritage Repository. Dorbour, Adadiem, 1994. Bondakile 1982. Length: 5.05 minutes.
A group of unfired clay pots to which red slip (chuma in Nafaanra) has been applied prior to firing. The string of Babobab tree seeds (foreground) is used to burnish the slip. By rubbing the dried slip vigorously with the seeds, the slip adheres to the surface and becomes shiny. To the right rear are several unfired clay eating bowls (kpokpoo in Nafaanra). Dorbour, 1994.
Afua Donkor, a Nafana potter, burnishes a dried but as-yet unfired clay pot on which she has applied a red slip (chuma in Nafaanra). She uses a strand of Baobab tree seeds (wasawasa in Nafaanra) to rub the slip, helping the color to adhere to the pot's surface and giving it a sheen. The base of the pot is left unslipped. Dorbour, 1994.
Akua Donkor, a Nafana potter, etches grooves onto the leather-hard surface of a clay cooking pot (sro chͻ in Nafaanra) before it is fired. The lower part of the jar has been surface treated using a maize cob (bledjukaan in Nafaanra) as a roulette. This gives the pot surface texture, over which the grooved design is made. She wears bracelets that sometimes double as tools to decorate pots. Dorbour, 1994.