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.
During the 20th century, potting took place primarily in villages west of the Banda hills (Dorbour, Dumboli, Bondakile). But based on oral histories and archaeological evidence we know that pottery was made more widely across the area in earlier centuries. Here Ann Stahl makes notes on an old clay pit located east of the Ahenkro-Bongase road a short distance south of Bongase. Chuli mountain is visible in the distance. Tall grass characteristic of the rainy season covers the area. South of Bongase, 1990.
A young boy stands at the base of the clay pit where potters from Bondakile mine the clay they use for making pottery. Soils from upper and lower levels are mixed together to make a workable potting clay. Children help relatives who are potters to dig and process the clay. Two photos. Bondakile, October, 1982.
Two men (left) stand on the edge of a deep pit previously mined by potters from around Bui Village as a source of potting clay. The deep clay pit was used before the mid-20th century when potters were still practicing their craft east of the Banda hills. The clay pit was located along a stream which drained into the Black Volta on its south bank, on the road leading west from Bui Village. The pit was located in an area later flooded by the rising waters of Bui Lake after construction of the Bui Dam. A red-and-white 2 meter photo scale stands upright in the pit to show the pit's depth. West of Bui, 1989.
A map showing the location of clay sources and selected archaeological sites in the Banda Traditional Area, Bono Region, Ghana. Many of these sources were used to mine clay for making pottery in centuries past. Noted in parentheses are the compositional groups to which clay sources have been assigned through Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis. Groups "L" and "H2" are located to the west of the prominent line of hills that bisect the region. Group "K2" pits are located to the east of these hills.
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University of Victoria Libraries
Maps; Banda (Brong-Ahafo Region, Ghana); Clay mining; Pottery making
Technical note: Projection WGS 1984, UTM Zone 30N; Data sources: Ann Stahl (Banda border, point locations); Natural Earth (country boundaries); Humanitarian Data Exchange, Open Street Map (roads); DIVA GIS, Open Street Map (rivers and elevations)
This short video made from still photographic images shows how potters mine and process the clay they use to make pots. The video includes images of Mo potters in Bondakile and Nafana potters in Dorbour, including Yakosua. Original images used to make the video are available in the Banda Through Time Repository. Bondakile, 1982. Dorbour, 1994. Length: 2.25 minutes.