Bamana Women’s Pottery

by Barbara Frank
SUNY at Stony Brook

Pots for sale on market day. Banamba, Mali, 1988. Photograph by Barbara E. Frank.

The best potters do most of their work on commission, but will produce a surplus to sell at regional weekly markets. The small handled bowls in the left foreground are incense burners, the black pots on the right are for cooking, while the larger black vessels in the background are for water storage. The pots with red slip painted designs and ceramic lids are water storage pots intended for public display in the compound of the home. The potters prefer to sell their pots for cash, but often accept grain, peanuts, or cloth in exchange. They often complain of pots delivered on credit for grain they will not receive before the next harvest.