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.
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.
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 standing potter bends over as she begins to pull a clay lump upwards and outwards, using a draw-and-drag (direct pull) technique to form the walls of a clay pot. The clay rests on a metal plate (kpankpa in Nafaanra) which allows her to move the pot aside to dry once its body and rim are formed. Once dry, she will add a rounded base. The finger marks visible at this stage of the pot's forming show the direction in which she pulls the clay as she works. Adadiem, 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