The New Yam Festival (Finjie Lie in Nafaanra) marks the day when people can begin to eat the new crop of yams (finyjie in Nafaanra). Here women gather round a wooden mortar to pound cooked yam tubers to make fufu. Women pound with heavy, round-ended pestles. Working together, they use their pestles to pound and turn the fufu. Pestles hit the mortar's edge as they pound, creating a rhythmic accompaniment to their work. The musical sound of women and their helpers pounding fufu or grain was an integral part of the soundscape of village life in the earlier times. To the rear (right) calabashes (gourds, chrԑ in Nafaanra) wrapped in netting are ready to be sent to market. To the front sits a pottery grinding bowl (left), a calabash (center) and metal cooking pots (right). Ahenkro, 30 August, 1982.
Women in the central courtyard of a house compound in Ahenkro prepare the evening meal. A woman seated in the foreground readies dishes while women in the background cook over clustered hearths. A number of low stools are placed amidst a variety of metal, plastic and fired clay containers including buckets and pots. Calabash bowls (chrԑgbͻͻ in Nafaanra) are among the containers being used. A repurposed metal drum (center, back) holds water for household purposes. A raised platform is stacked with firewood brought by the women from farm and stored until needed. Thatch- and metal-roofed rooms surround the courtyard. Ahenkro, July-August, 1986.
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Metal pots; Plastic containers; Water barrels; Women's work
Adjua Anane (seated left) and Akosua, her young relative, prepare fufu by pounding cooked yams in a wooden mortar. Sister Yaa Yable Wo looks on. In the foreground is a metal grinding bowl styled after the locally made pottery grinding bowls that are found at archaeological sites dating back to the 1800s and earlier. Ahenkro, July-August, 1986.
Magdalene Attah uses a small wooden mortar and pestle to process cassava flour while two goats forage in the background. The large wood pile to the rear (left) is associated with the tobacco drying barns that line the south edge of Ahenkro. Ahenkro, May, 1995.
Large, shallow blackened clay bowls with interior striations are used in cooking and for eating. Cooks use them together with a small double-sided wooden pestle to grind pepper and cooked vegetables like "garden eggs" (small eggplants) for soups. They are also used as men's eating bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Bowls with striated interiors are occasionally found on archaeological sites in the Banda area, but this particular blackened form was not common until the 20th century when it was introduced from areas to the south. Potters in the region began to produce the bowls for sale both locally and at regional markets. During the 1980s and 1990s, this became one of the most popular pots made for market sale. Ahenkro, 1986.
The clay pottery jars (sro chͻ in Nafaanra) used to prepare food vary in size. Round-based jars like these are used to boil yams and other starchy foods. They are supported by hearth stones as they sit on the fire. Their lower surface is often textured or surface-treated with maize cob roulette (visible on the largest pot on the right) which may make them easier to handle when full of liquid and food. Ahenkro, 1986.
In the foreground are two clay pots used to prepare soup. A soup pot (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra) has sharp-angled (carinated) shoulders and an everted rim. They are simply decorated with grooved lines above the shoulder, but otherwise plain. The larger one on the right has been blackened, a treatment that is not commonly seen on archaeological pottery from Banda sites. Ahenkro, 1986.