Bamana Women’s Pottery

by Barbara Frank
SUNY at Stony Brook

Urban potter Assetu Doumbia. Bamako, Mali, 1991. Photograph by Barbara E. Frank.


Assetu Doumbia is an urban potter who produces flower pots and water jars for a Westernized clientele in the capital city of Bamako. Although she gets higher prices for her wares, she also has greater expenses. She buys most of her supplies, from the clay brought to her compound in a pickup truck, to the red pigment for slip decoration, to the wood for firing. She also pays someone to transport her wares to one of the local markets. Here she is making a large water jar using a metal turntable (a banding wheel) acquired from a European potter who had planned to introduce Western techniques to local potters, but abandoned the project.