A potter uses a maize cob (bledjukaan in Nafaanra) to smooth the surface of clay jar body that she is molding by a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique. Beginning with a lump of moist clay, she has drawn the clay upward and outward, thinning the walls as she works. Here she moves clockwise around the stump that holds the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which the jar is being formed as she draws the maize cob up, pulling it towards her body. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A standing potter molds the body of a clay jar using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique. Here she uses a flat metal spatula to smooth the now-formed jar's exterior surface. She places the edge of her tool at the neck and makes downward strokes to create a smooth surface on the moist clay. As she works, she moves around the stump that supports the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which the jar is being formed. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A potter uses a metal spatula as she forms the neck area of clay jar which she has shaped using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique. The striations on the body of the jar were created by a maize cob (bledjukaan in Nafaanra) which she used to shape and smooth the pot's wall. These will be smoothed away as she continues to form the pot. She moves around the stump on which the pot rests as she works. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A standing potter molds the body of a clay jar using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique. As she began she drew the moist clay upward and outward from the lump with which she started. Here she shapes the jar's neck and outward flaring rim. Before doing so, she has smoothed away finger marks created as she formed the jar's body. As she works, she moves around the stump that supports the palette on which the jar is being formed. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A potter has completed the draw-and-drag (direct pull) molding of a clay jar body and rim. The surface of the jar has been moistened and smoothed. It will be set aside to dry. Once it has dried to a leather-hard state, she will remove the partially finished jar from the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which she formed it and will add a rounded base using fresh, moist clay. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A standing potter puts the finishing touches on the rim of a clay jar that she has molded using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique. She has finished the body, neck and rim of the jar and will now set it aside to dry. After it has dried to a leather-hard state, she will remove the jar from the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which it has been formed and she will add a rounded base. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A potter uses a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique as she begins to mold the body and rim of a pottery jar from a lump of moist clay. The clay rests on a palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) supported by a stump. She moves clockwise around the stump as she uses her hands to pull the clay upward and outward to form the walls of the pot. Bondakile, October, 1982.
With moistened hands, a standing potter smooths the rim of a partially finished clay jar. As she works, she moves clockwise around the wooden stump that supports the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which the pot is being molded. Bondakile, October, 1982.
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.
During the 20th century women from the potting villages of Dorbour, Adadiem and other locations west of the Banda hills sold their pots in markets centers to the east and the west. Here women sell clay pots in the market at Bondoukou in Côte d’Ivoire. Visible are varied-sized cooking pots (sro chͻ in Nafaanra), water jars (chͻkoo in Nafaanra), soup pots (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra) and grinding bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Also for sale in the foreground are clay eating bowls that appear to have been fired in a kiln (?) rather than a bonfire. Bondoukou, 1994.
During the 20th century women from the potting villages of Dorbour, Adadiem and other locations west of the Banda hills sold their pots in markets centers to the east and the west. Here women sell clay pots in the market at Bondoukou in Côte d’Ivoire. Visible are varied-sized cooking pots (sro chͻ in Nafaanra), water jars (chͻkoo in Nafaanra) and grinding bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Only the grinding bowls are blackened which was a fashion that came in sometime in the 20th century. Bondoukou, Côte d’Ivoire, 1994.
A woman inspects a clay jar for sale in the Bondoukou market. Large and small cooking pots (sro chͻ in Nafaanra) and a bowl are displayed for sale. During the 20th century women from Banda potting villages and surrounding areas headloaded their pottery to sell at Bondoukou's weekly market. Bondoukou, Côte d’Ivoire, 1994.
A man transports a clay pot, carefully strapped to the back of his bicycle and cushioned beneath by coiled grass leaves. He is returning from one of the potting villages where hs has purchased the clay jar from a potter. More often, pottery was taken to markets by headloading, sometimes sold by potters, but also by women who traded in clay pots. Banda area, 1994.
Though potters work individually when they make clay pots, they help each other when they fire their pots. In the foreground are the ashes left by earlier fires, and in the background women tend to ongoing bonfires. Stacks of firewood are visible in the background. Adadiem, 1994.
A woman stacks clay grinding bowls on top of wood in preparation for a bonfire firing. The bowls are placed to ensure even exposure to the heat of the bonfire. She will place additional fuel on top of the bowls before lighting the fire. Adadiem, 1994.
Large, shallow blackened clay bowls with interior striations are used in cooking and for eating. They are used together with a small double-sided wooden pestle to grind pepper and vegetables like "garden eggs" (small eggplants) when making soups. These bowls may also be used as men's eating bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Though archaeological sites occasionally have potsherds with striated interiors, this particular blackened bowl 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. By the 1980s and 1990s, this was one of the most popular pots made for market sale. Ahenkro, 1986.
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 and by the 1980s and 1990s, this one of the most popular pots made for market sale. Ahenkro, 1986.
Fired, blackened clay grinding bowls are stacked (center). While hot from the fire, the bowls have been blackened by rolling them in dry grass or peanut (boŋgrɛ in Nafaanra) shells. To the right, a bonfire firing is in progress. The outside perimeter of the fire is banked with previously fired but broken jars. To the left, a large clay bowl contains a bark solution into which the pots are dipped while still hot from the fire. Behind that, another bonfire burns. To the right (back, center) pots have been stacked in preparation for another bonfire firing. The fashion of blackening grinding bowls began in the Banda area sometime during the 20th century. Adadiem, 1994.
A calabash bowl (chrԑgbͻͻ in Nafaanra) containing water rests on top of a small pedestaled clay bowl (kontoŋdԑԑ in Nafaanra) used in funeral celebrations. The clay bowl is used by women to present food to the ancestors (sro waa in Nafaanra). Calabash rattles used in funeral celebrations sit nearby, some next to a basket. Dorbour, 1994.
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.
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.
A number of large and medium-sized clay jars have been placed upside down on a bed of fire wood in preparation for a bonfire firing. Several previously fired and broken clay pots together with large stones are used to bank the edges of the stacked firewood. More firewood is stacked behind the bonfire area. Adadiem, 1994.
A metal headpan is loaded with clay pots ready to take to market. The darkened angular pots placed around the inside edges of the headpan are soup pots (chiin sinyjͻlͻ in Nafaanra) and the rounder shaped pots are for cooking starchy staples (sro chͻ in Nafaanra). Dorbour, 1994.
These fired clay pots are specifically designed for water storage. The water jar (chͻkoo in Nafaanra) on the left was made in Adadiem and the one on the right was made by a potter in Dorbour. Unlike pottery intended for other uses, potters do not finish pots intended for water storage in a bark solution to seal and color the pot. Instead, the surface of water storage pots needs to be porous to effectively cool the water stored inside. The size of the water jar's mouth allows access to the water inside but also limits evaporation. The color of these pots is a result of firing conditions. Dorbour, 1994.
Small pedestal-based bowls like this one (called kontondԑԑ in Nafaanra) are used in funeral rituals. Women cook food and offer it to the ancestors in a funeral ceremony called 'sro waa'. Larger versions of these bowls were used in times past as women's eating bowls; however, by the late 20th century small versions like this one were only made to order for funerals. Men were prohibited from touching them. Dorbour, 1994.
Fired clay stands like these were made by potters for use in the kitchen area of houses. Grouped together in threes like hearthstones, the stands supported pots over an open fire during cooking. Some of these fired clay stands had an opening, allowing pieces of meat to be placed inside where it slow-cooked and dried as other parts of the meal were cooking. Dorbour, 1994.
In order to transport clay pots by motor vehicle, they must be carefully packed and padded. Here, blackened clay grinding bowls packed in grass have arrived in Techiman market from potting villages in Banda. Techiman, 1994.
Varied sizes of clay jars are stacked in the corner of a room inside a house. The adjacent wall is decorated with enamel-ware lids and plates. Several metal cooking pots and a wooden paddle used to stir food sit around the clay pots. Jneni, 1994.
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.
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.
Potters in Adadiem place bark over clay pots that have been stacked on top of a bed of firewood. The bonfire has been lit and the bark serves as additional fuel. More red-slipped clay pots sit behind, waiting for the next firing. One woman carries a child on her back. The bonfire will burn for between 30 minutes and an hour, after which the pots will be ready for use or sale. Abena Donkor (far right) assists while Solomon Kojo, young boy in brown shorts, looks on. Two photos. Adadiem, 1994.
Base of level 7, unit 4W 4S, Mound 5, Station 6, Makala Kataa. An area of burned soil (left), several flat grinding stones (center) and an everted rim jar are exposed at the base of the level. The unit wall shows the transition from dark soils close to the mound's surface and the lighter soils in its lower levels. Makala Kataa, 6 July, 1989.
A burned basin-like feature is visible in profile in the east wall of excavation unit 130W 26S, Mound 138, Kuulo Kataa. Clustered and adjacent to the burned area at the base of level 7 are three pottery pedestal bases, broken away from their original pots. The presence of slag and other burned features in adjacent units suggest that Mound 138 was a place where the site's occupants worked metals. A photo scale with 5 cm intervals points north. Kuulo Kataa, 14 July, 1995.
Narrow-necked clay jars like these were ideal for storing water. The exterior surface of these water jars (chͻkoo in Nafaanra) has been textured by rolling a twisted cord-wrapped stick (jar on the left) or a maize cob (jar on the right) across the surface and otherwise decorated with shallow grooved lines. The narrow opening inhibits evaporation while the porous fired clay walls keep the water cool. Bondakile, 1994.
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Water pots (chokoo); Jars; Twisted cord roulette; Maize cob roulette; Water storage
The New Yam Festival (Finjie Lie in Nafaanra) marks the day when people can begin to eat the new crop of yams (finyjie in Nafaanra). Here women gather round a wooden mortar to pound cooked yam tubers to make fufu. Women pound with heavy, round-ended pestles. Working together, they use their pestles to pound and turn the fufu. Pestles hit the mortar's edge as they pound, creating a rhythmic accompaniment to their work. The musical sound of women and their helpers pounding fufu or grain was an integral part of the soundscape of village life in the earlier times. To the rear (right) calabashes (gourds, chrԑ in Nafaanra) wrapped in netting are ready to be sent to market. To the front sits a pottery grinding bowl (left), a calabash (center) and metal cooking pots (right). Ahenkro, 30 August, 1982.
Kitchen area of a household in Dorbour. Several hearths are clustered in the center of the open courtyard surrounded by low wooden stools. Several wooden mortars of varying sizes and a number of pestles are clustered along a porch. Pottery and metal pots used in cooking are near the hearth. A goat forages for food amid the hearths. Large vessels to the far left store liquid (water, or possibly pito, locally made beer). The courtyard is surrounded by thatch- and metal-roofed rooms. Dorbour, 1994.
Hearths in a Dorbour household. One of three visible hearths is in use, a metal cooking pot suspended over a fire fueled by firewood. A wooden mortar and several pestles are at ready in the background. In the foreground (right) a clay cooking pot rests on top of a metal basin that has been re-purposed as a pot stand. A large metal pot, a calabash bowl (chrԑgbͻͻ in Nafaanra) and a plastic cup sit behind the clay pot. Dorbour, 1994.
A courtyard hearth in a Dorbour household. The hearth "stones" are clay pots turned upside down and embedded in the ground. A pottery cooking jar rests on the hearth, the firewood pulled away from the hearth while it is not in use. A metal cooking pot and headpan have caught the interest of a foraging goat. Dorbour, 1994.
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.
Unfinished clay grinding bowls dry on the palettes (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which they were formed. After they have dried to a leather-hard state, the potter will remove them from their palettes and score their interiors. The scoring creates a grinding surface used to process vegetables which are added to soups. These bowls may also serve as men's eating bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). Immediately behind the drying bowls is a hearth, swept clean of ashes. Pottery jars can be seen drying in background, right. A chicken forages nearby. Bondakile, October, 1982.
A toddler girl wearing a protective strand of beads sits beside finished clay grinding bowls that have been set aside to continue drying before firing. The scoring on the interior of the bowl provides a rough surface against which cooked vegetables can be ground into a paste before being added to a soup. These bowls may also serve as men's eating bowls (pԑԑ in Nafaanra). 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.
These partially formed clay jars (chͻ in Nafaanra) are drying, resting on the palette (kpankpa in Nafaanra) on which they were formed. Once dried to a leather-hard state, the potter removes them from the plate and, using fresh moist clay, adds a rounded base to the jar. To the left, a metal cooking vessel rests nearby. Bondakile, October, 1982.