Bamana Women’s Pottery

by Barbara Frank
SUNY at Stony Brook

Forming a pot over a mold. Banamba, Mali, 1988. Photograph by Barbara E. Frank.


Bamana potters use a variety of tampers to shape the bottom of a pot over the mold. Some use a fired clay cylinder made specially for the process, others use a smooth stone or a broken pottery sherd. The tamper is often covered with a piece of netted fiber that imparts a rough texture to the surface. Once an even thickness is achieved, it is  allowed to become leatherhard. A foot may be added at this time. After the base is removed from the mold, the textured surface may be retained, or later smoothed over, as the potter chooses.