Sheep feed on the edges of a bonfire where clay jars are being fired. Grass has been laid as fuel over the carefully stacked pottery. Wood fuel lies beneath. At the bonfire's base, the broken pots used to bank the fire are visible. The fire will be allowed to burn down, after which the jars will be removed and, while still hot, dipped in a bark solution that coats the pot with a finish. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Potters place the pounded bark of specific trees (surom, layene, koko or lakroas they are known in Nafaanra) in water to create a solution used to finish pots. The red-colored solution carbonizes on the surface of hot pots just removed from the bonfire. Here, the prepared solution awaits as the pots are being fired. A plastic container floats on the surface. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Clay pottery jars cool and dry after having been fired and dipped in a finishing bark solution. Once fully cooled, the jars will be stacked and stored before being sent to markets around the area. Jars like these (sro chͻ in Nafaanra) are used to prepare food, for example boiling yams and other tubers. To the right rear, wood is stored on a raised platform, awaiting use in cooking hearths. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A potter uses a pole to carry a hot clay jar from the smoldering bonfire (behind). She is carrying it to a pottery bowl that contains a solution of pounded bark into which she will dip the jar to create a finish. Newly fired pots are visible in the remains of the bonfire, lying on their sides. A row of upturned, previously fired but broken pots forms a bank around the bonfire's edge. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A seated Nafana potter uses her hands to mold the sides of a clay pot. Beginning with a lump of clay placed on a round palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra), she has used a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique to form the pot. Nearby are the enamel ware plates that she uses as palettes or turntables on which to form pots. Another partially shaped pot is visible at the top of the photo. Dorbour, 1994.
This short video made from still photographic images shows how Mo potters in Bondakile make clay jars using a draw-and-drag technique. The focus is on forming of the jar's body and rim. Original images used to make the video are available in the Banda Through Time Repository. Bondakile, 1982. Length: 2.59 minutes.
A standing potter bends over as she begins to pull a clay lump upwards and outwards, using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique to form the walls of a clay pot. The clay rests on a metal plate (kpankpa in Nafaanra) which allows her to move the pot aside to dry once its body and rim are formed. Once dry, she will add a rounded base. The finger marks visible at this stage of the pot's forming show the direction in which she pulls the clay as she works. Adadiem, 1994.
Potters in Adadiem place bark over clay pots that have been stacked on top of a bed of firewood. The bonfire has been lit and the bark serves as additional fuel. More red-slipped clay pots sit behind, waiting for the next firing. One woman carries a child on her back. The bonfire will burn for between 30 minutes and an hour, after which the pots will be ready for use or sale. Abena Donkor (far right) assists while Solomon Kojo, young boy in brown shorts, looks on. Two photos. Adadiem, 1994.
Unfinished clay grinding bowls dry on the palettes (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which they were formed. After they have dried to a leather-hard state, the potter will remove them from their palettes and score their interiors. The scoring creates a grinding surface used to process vegetables which are added to soups. These bowls may also serve as men's eating bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Immediately behind the drying bowls is a hearth, swept clean of ashes. Pottery jars can be seen drying in background, right. A chicken forages nearby. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Ama Donkor, a Nafana potter, sits as she uses moist clay to form the base of a soup pot (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra). She is adding the base to a body and rim that she made the day before and set aside to dry. The clay pot rests on a metal plate that she can turn as she works (kpankpa in Nafaanra). She adds small lumps of clay as she gradually builds the rounded base of the pot. Three photos. Dorbour, 1994.