Art and Life Among the Zaramo of Tanzania

by Diane Pelrine
Indiana University Art Museum

Nyapazi Pembe, pictured here with pottery she had made, Zaramo peoples, Tanzania. Photo by Diane Pelrine.


Especially outside of Dar es Salaam, each Zaramo home also usually has at least three different kinds of pottery.  Water jars, round vessels with narrow necks, are the largest.  Shallow bowl forms in a variety of sizes are used for cooking, storing, and serving food, sometimes accompanied by lids with loop handles and a raised rim that can hold charcoal to keep food warm.  Decoration is usually minimal and forms closely resemble pottery of the Swahili, peoples who live along the East African coast from Somalia to Mozambique.  Zaramo pottery making is traditionally woman's work and is a skill that relatively few acquire.  Nyapazi Pembe, pictured here with pottery she had made for her own household, learned the skill from an aunt.