As the bonfire burns down, a helper uses a long pole to prepare the newly fired clay pots for removal. The neatly stacked pots lie on their sides. Around the edges, a bank of previously fired and broken pots, some turned upside-down, were used to hold the fuel and pots in place as the bonfire was built. The bonfire burns rapidly, the firing process lasting between about 30 minutes to an hour. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Potters and their helpers place hot clay jars, just removed from the bonfire, into a solution made from pounded tree bark. They use their long wooden poles to carry the pots to large pottery bowls containing the bark solution. They dip and turn the pot in the solution, allowing it to carbonize on the surface of the hot jar. This finishing step colors the jar's surface and makes its walls less porous which is said to improve its cooking performance. The remains of the bonfire, banked by previously fired broken pots, can be seen in the rear center. Four photos. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Finished and dried clay pottery jars are carefully placed on top of firewood in preparation for firing. Previously fired broken or flawed pots are used to bank the fuel, keeping it in place. Additional fuel will be placed on top of the stacked pottery and the fuel set on fire. The resulting bonfire will be allowed to burn down, after which the pots will be removed and finished while hot by being dipped in a bark solution. Mensah Listowell, Research Assistant (blue shirt), stands by as the potters prepare to place more fuel on the stacked pottery. Bondakile, October, 1982.
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.
A group of four clay jars cool after being removed from the bonfire and dipped in bark solution. The solution carbonizes as it comes in contact with the hot surface of the pot, creating a glossy darkened surface that reduces the jar's porosity. A portion of one jar's rim has broken off during the firing and finishing process. Visible on the lower pot surfaces is the maize cob (bledjukaan in Nafaanra) roulette applied to create a roughened surface prior to firing. Shallow grooves used to decorate the upper surfaces are visible on the jar in the foreground. Pieces of bark from the bark solution adhere to the jars' surfaces. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Dried clay jars are carefully placed on top of firewood in preparation for firing. Their surfaces have been textured by rolling a maize cob (bledjukaan in Nafaanra) over the jars' lower surface (maize cob roulette) and decorated with shallow arched grooves made when the pot was in a leather-hard state. Additional fuel will be placed on top of the stacked pottery before the fire is lit. After the fire has burned down the pots will be removed and finished by being dipped while hot in a bark solution. 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.
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 potter tends the bonfire in which clay pottery jars are being fired. She uses a long pole to adjust the grass fuel laid on top of the pots and the wood fuel beneath them. A bank of previously fired and broken pots holds the fire in place. The bonfire burns rapidly, the firing process lasting between about 30 minutes to an hour. Bondakile, October, 1982.
The remains of a pottery-firing bonfire after the newly fired pots have been removed. Most of the jars visible here were fired prior to this bonfire. Broken or otherwise flawed, they were used to create a bank around the bonfire at its base. The bonfire's fuel has been reduced to an ash layer that remains in the center. Bondakile, October, 1982.