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.
A woman (Yaa Nsiah Adiemu) headloads pottery that she has brought from Dorbour to the marketplace in Ahenkro, a distance of about 20 km which she has traveled on foot. She is accompanied by her niece (right). She carries in her headpan clay pots used for cooking food and making soup (sro chͻ and chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra). She sells her clay pots at the weekly market and by going house-to-house. The load that she is carrying here is at the end of a market day, after she has sold some of her pottery. Ahenkro, July-August, 1986.
Clay pots of varied sizes used to store water (chͻkoo in Nafaanra). The exterior surface of these everted-rim jars is textured with maize cob roulette and their surface is decorated with shallow grooved lines. The porous walls of these pots helps keep the liquid storied inside cool. For this reason, these pots are not treated with the bark solution used to finish cooking pots. Also, the narrow opening (neck) of the jar reduces evaporation and conserves water. Ahenkro, 1986.
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Water pots (chokoo); Maize cob roulette; Decoration; Water storage; Jars
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.
Small clay bowls (kpokpoo in Nafaanra) used by women for eating. The bowl on the left has been blackened. Blackened pottery is a fashion that became more common in the 20th century. Similar clay bowls from the 19th century and earlier found on archaeological sites are more similar in color to the bowl on the right. In earlier times, these bowls often had a pedestaled base, creating a flat rather than rounded surface on which they sat. Ahenkro, 1986.
Members of Gbaŋmbɛ Katoo demonstrate the use of a (partially constructed) balo or xylophone (sinyeele in Nafaanra). The instrument is played at special funerals, including those of the paramount chief. A calabash with a small hole lies beneath the instrument. Together with other calabashes of graded size (small to large), it serves as the instrument's resonating chamber when fully assembled. By striking the sinyeele's wooden keys with a mallet, a range of musical notes are produced by the differently sized calabashes. Nyua Kwadwo (male family head) holds the mallets he uses to play the sinyeele. On each wrist he wears an iron bangle or bracelet with metal jangles. To the left, a family member plays a drum made from a clay pot. Sanwa, 6 August, 1986.
Women in the house of Brɛmawuo work together to prepare the main meal of the day. The wives of the house sit on low wooden stools as they prepare food at clustered hearths. Each hearth is made of three laterite stones which hold the cooking pot above the fire. The women use an array of metal cooking vessels, calabash bowls (chrԑgbͻͻ in Nafaanra) and a clay pot (on the front hearth). The clay pot was likely purchased from one of the potting villages on the west of the Banda hills. Beneath the thatched roof behind the women are hearths used during rainy weather. This house was revisited in November 2018 and several of the women pictured here were interviewed about how foodways have changed over the three decades since this photo was taken. Among the women pictured are (L-R) Adwoa Hana (stirring), Yaa Yaa Dankwa (Stirring), Ama Nwotwenwaa (holding a calabash), Abena Kuma, (standing in blue cloth) and Ama Mensah (standing in red cloth). Sabiye, 15 August 1986.