Though potters work individually when they make clay pots, they help each other when they fire their pots. In the foreground are the ashes left by earlier fires, and in the background women tend to ongoing bonfires. Stacks of firewood are visible in the background. Adadiem, 1994.
A woman stacks clay grinding bowls on top of wood in preparation for a bonfire firing. The bowls are placed to ensure even exposure to the heat of the bonfire. She will place additional fuel on top of the bowls before lighting the fire. Adadiem, 1994.
Fired, blackened clay grinding bowls are stacked (center). While hot from the fire, the bowls have been blackened by rolling them in dry grass or peanut (boŋgrɛ in Nafaanra) shells. To the right, a bonfire firing is in progress. The outside perimeter of the fire is banked with previously fired but broken jars. To the left, a large clay bowl contains a bark solution into which the pots are dipped while still hot from the fire. Behind that, another bonfire burns. To the right (back, center) pots have been stacked in preparation for another bonfire firing. The fashion of blackening grinding bowls began in the Banda area sometime during the 20th century. Adadiem, 1994.
A number of large and medium-sized clay jars have been placed upside down on a bed of fire wood in preparation for a bonfire firing. Several previously fired and broken clay pots together with large stones are used to bank the edges of the stacked firewood. More firewood is stacked behind the bonfire area. Adadiem, 1994.
These fired clay pots are specifically designed for water storage. The water jar (chͻkoo in Nafaanra) on the left was made in Adadiem and the one on the right was made by a potter in Dorbour. Unlike pottery intended for other uses, potters do not finish pots intended for water storage in a bark solution to seal and color the pot. Instead, the surface of water storage pots needs to be porous to effectively cool the water stored inside. The size of the water jar's mouth allows access to the water inside but also limits evaporation. The color of these pots is a result of firing conditions. Dorbour, 1994.
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.
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.