Discovering the northern ghanaian potter

in Plate

Potting in Northern Ghana is one of the greatest occupations that old women are deeply engage to end a living. Frankly speaking the standard of living and cost of living within this locality is very poor and high respectively. The old women (grandmothers) who are into the potting occupation are now laying down their tools just because demand for the pots that they produced is decreasing at a very fast pace. This is due the fact that the introduction of artificial goods such as plastic and metal containers are over taking the race with a very low selling prices.  Though these people employ a lot of decorative techniques with simple materials and tools obtained from the environment, they always end up with a very low or no profit. But can we help solve this problem? Hmm first of all let us have a look at their potting process.

Tools and Materials in use

Unfolding the uses of the indigenous pottery kit in Northern Ghana very generally, they are amalgamations of hard seed pods, pieces of plastic or calabash, sieves, beaded baobab seeds, maize or millet cob, mortar and pestle, an iron ring which smiths sell in markets, sometimes with a toothed or serrated edge.  Calabash pieces or the equivalent are used to form the neck; and the rim, after excess clay is cut off with a knife, or pinched off with the fingers, is smoothed with a wet rag, leaf, piece of cow or goat hide, or paper.  The outer body of the pot is smoothed and burnished, once it is leather hard, using maize or millet cob, a smooth stone such as a river pebble, a wooden paddle, or a slightly concave ceramic disc held in the palm of the hand to gently hammer around the curve of the pot.

The potter makes this tool herself. The materials employed are clay, water, kerosene, rice bran, plant dye, laterite-based liquid prepared from local gravel ("zoam") and grog. Below are some illustrations of the tools and materials.

Plate 8: A knife   Plate 9: baobab seeds

  Plate 10: A river pebble   Plate 11: A wooden paddle

Plate 12: A seedpods   Plate 13: A truncated fired pot base (potsherd). 

  Plate 14: sieve  Plate 15: A dried laterite-based liquid

Processing Techniques

The Northern Ghanaian indigenous potter starts the whole potting process by pounding and sieving fired pot fragment to a course powder (grog). This is illustrated below

This grog is used in tempering the clay (thus, to strengthen and to prevent pots from cracking during firing). This has to be mixed evenly throughout the clay to avoid any local weakness in the pot wall. Below is the sample of the grog.

The pot is started either from a lump which is fisted into a shallow bowl-shape and the walls pulled up slightly before being built up with a series of prepared sausages; or fat coils are rolled out between the palms and work into place around a concave potsherd, leaving the centre bare for in-filling later. The potsherd (or equivalent) allows the pot to be turned slowly as it is built up.  This illustrated below:

(a) Fat coils  (b) the working of fat coils in a potsherd (note; this is done without scoring and slipping)

 If the pot is much larger the potter is more likely to walk round it; in this case the coils are much rougher and the pot walls thicker.  In all techniques, the pot wall is built, pulled and thinned gradually upwards with a series of tools to scrape the inside and outside used against the hand or the fingers, or another tool. This is shown below:

 

Describing the process very generally, Calabash pieces or the equivalent are used to form the neck; and the rim, after excess clay is scrapped with a knife, or pinched off with the fingers, is smoothed with a wet rag, leaf, piece of cow or goat hide, or paper.  This is shown below:

The outer body of the pot is smoothed and burnished, once it is leather-hard, using maize or millet cob, a smooth stone such as a river pebble, a wooden paddle etc. After these processes the pot is fired in the open firing method. Below are some of the fired pieces of indigenous pots found in the Northern part of Ghana; ‘Kukuo'

TO BE CONTINUE..........................................................

DISCOVERING THE NORTHERN GHANAIAN POTTER

Potting in Northern Ghana is one of the greatest occupations that old women are deeply engage to end a living. Frankly speaking the standard of living and cost of living within this locality is very poor and high respectively. The old women (grandmothers) who are into the potting occupation are now laying down their tools just because demand for the pots that they produced is decreasing at a very fast pace. This is due the fact that the introduction of artificial goods such as plastic and metal containers are over taking the race with a very low selling prices.  Though these people employ a lot of decorative techniques with simple materials and tools obtained from the environment, they always end up with a very low or no profit. But can we help solve this problem? Hmm first of all let us have a look at their potting process.

Tools and Materials in use

Unfolding the uses of the indigenous pottery kit in Northern Ghana very generally, they are amalgamations of hard seed pods, pieces of plastic or calabash, sieves, beaded baobab seeds, maize or millet cob, mortar and pestle, an iron ring which smiths sell in markets, sometimes with a toothed or serrated edge.  Calabash pieces or the equivalent are used to form the neck; and the rim, after excess clay is cut off with a knife, or pinched off with the fingers, is smoothed with a wet rag, leaf, piece of cow or goat hide, or paper.  The outer body of the pot is smoothed and burnished, once it is leather hard, using maize or millet cob, a smooth stone such as a river pebble, a wooden paddle, or a slightly concave ceramic disc held in the palm of the hand to gently hammer around the curve of the pot. The potter makes this tool herself. The materials employed are clay, water, kerosene, rice bran, plant dye, laterite-based liquid prepared from local gravel ("zoam") and grog. Below are some illustrations of the tools and materials.

Plate 8: A knife   Plate 9: baobab seeds

  Plate 10: A river pebble   Plate 11: A wooden paddle

Plate 12: A seedpods   Plate 13: A truncated fired pot base (potsherd). 

  Plate 14: sieve  Plate 15: A dried laterite-based liquid

Processing Techniques

The Northern Ghanaian indigenous potter starts the whole potting process by pounding and sieving fired pot fragment to a course powder (grog). This is illustrated below

This grog is used in tempering the clay (thus, to strengthen and to prevent pots from cracking during firing). This has to be mixed evenly throughout the clay to avoid any local weakness in the pot wall. Below is the sample of the grog.

The pot is started either from a lump which is fisted into a shallow bowl-shape and the walls pulled up slightly before being built up with a series of prepared sausages; or fat coils are rolled out between the palms and work into place around a concave potsherd, leaving the centre bare for in-filling later. The potsherd (or equivalent) allows the pot to be turned slowly as it is built up.  This illustrated below:

(a) Fat coils  (b) the working of fat coils in a potsherd (note; this is done without scoring and slipping)

 If the pot is much larger the potter is more likely to walk round it; in this case the coils are much rougher and the pot walls thicker.  In all techniques, the pot wall is built, pulled and thinned gradually upwards with a series of tools to scrape the inside and outside used against the hand or the fingers, or another tool. This is shown below:

 

Describing the process very generally, Calabash pieces or the equivalent are used to form the neck; and the rim, after excess clay is scrapped with a knife, or pinched off with the fingers, is smoothed with a wet rag, leaf, piece of cow or goat hide, or paper.  This is shown below:

The outer body of the pot is smoothed and burnished, once it is leather-hard, using maize or millet cob, a smooth stone such as a river pebble, a wooden paddle etc. After these processes the pot is fired in the open firing method. Below are some of the fired pieces of indigenous pots found in the Northern part of Ghana; ‘Kukuo'

TO BE CONTINUE..........................................................

Author Box
IDDRISU YUSSIF has 1 articles online

Add New Comment

Discovering the northern ghanaian potter

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
     
*
*
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2012/03/08