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.
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
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
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.
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.
Afua Donkor, a Nafana potter, uses a pestle to pound bark that will be used to make a solution to finish clay pots. In a nearby headpan, more stripped bark awaits pounding. After pounding, the bark will be soaked in water. Hot clay pots just removed from the bonfire will be dipped and turned in the solution. This colors the pots and is said to reduce their porosity. She sits on a stool as she works in the courtyard near a hearth. Nearby is a large metal cooking pot, several wooden mortars and a number of pestles. Finished clay soup cooking pots (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra) sit behind her ready for sale. Dorbour, 1994.