Ten clay cooking pots (sro chͻ in Nafaanra) have been placed upside down on a bed of firewood in preparation for a bonfire that will fire the clay pots. These pots have been red-slipped (chuma in Nafaanra) before firing. In the background is the bark that will be used to cover and surround the pottery before the bonfire is lit. Once lit, the fire burns for beween 30 minutes and an hour, after which the clay jars will be useable and ready for sale. Dorbour, 1994.
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.
Small clay eating bowls like this one (kpokpoo in Nafaanra) were typically used by women. This one has been blackened after a fashion that became popular in the 20th century. Similar bowls are found on archaeological sites around the Banda area, though often with a flat, pedestaled base and seldom blackened. Dorbour, 1994.
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 potter seated on the ground starts to form a clay pot. She begins with a lump of clay resting on a metal plate (kpankpa in Nafaanra) which she can turn as she uses a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique to shape the pot. A second lump of clay has already begun to be formed (lower left) and a clay bowl contains water that she uses to moisten the clay as needed (lower right). Lying on the metal plates to the left are tools that she will use as she forms the pot including two maize cobs, a spatula and a stone. Dorbour, 1994.
A potter's tools are laid out for view. Sitting on a well-worn clay-smeared grinding stone are two maize cobs (left; bledjukaan in Nafaanra), half of a seed pod from a tree (jenge in Nafaanra), and a spatula (unknown material). An enamel-ware pot holds several water-worn pebbles, several of which also sit in front of the grindstone. Pebbles (gbeliͻ in Nafaanra) are used to burnish the surface or make decorations on the pot's surface. In front of the grinding stone are two iron rings or "bracelets." The one with a wide flat side (gbooroo in Nafaanra) is used to scrape and thin the pot's walls after they have been allowed to dry. The other can be used to decorate pots. A small clay bowl holds water and a piece of cloth used to moisten and smooth the surface of the pot after it is formed. Dorbour, 1994.
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
Afua Donkor, a Nafana potter, selects and places fuel as she prepares to fire clay soup pots (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra) that have been slipped red. Other clay pots sit nearby awaiting firing, some in a headpan. The pots are carefully stacked on top of the wood and additional fuel placed on top. Additional firewood is stacked behind and in front lays the bark that she will use to cover the clay pots before lighting the bonefire. Once lit, the bonfire will burn for between 30 and 60 minutes, after which the fired pottery will be hardened, useable and ready for sale. Two photos. 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 slip is a thin solution made by mixing a red soil found on the Brawhani road with water. Some is contained in a small can sitting on the ground (left). Finished, unfired pots sit in the room behind the potter. Dorbour, 1994.