Bamana Women’s Pottery

by Barbara Frank
SUNY at Stony Brook

Pounding sherds into grog. Kunògò, Mali, 1991. Photograph by Barbara E. Frank.

 

African potters generally use a very high percentage of temper (30%-40%) for their low fire pottery. Potter Assitan Ballo is carefully breaking pot sherds into small pieces to be used as grog, the most common type of temper used by Bamana potters. This process may also be accomplished using a mortar and pestle, in the same way that rice and millet are prepared. However, although pounding by hand is more time consuming, it is also more efficient because it creates grains of an even size and less is wasted as dust. These particles will be mixed with the raw clay to reduce cracking when the clay dries, and avert breaking during firing.