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Pottery manufacture in Kalabougou | by Marco Bellucci
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Pottery manufacture in Kalabougou

Kalabougou is a village located across the Niger river from Ségou (Mali). The village is known for its craftsmanship, particularly pottery of which the women of the village are traditionally employed in. The potters of Kalabougou are major suppliers of pottery for sale in Bamako, as well as to nearby Segou.


(...) Firings take place in Kalabougou every Saturday and Sunday in the late afternoon. By mid-afternoon, many women and their daughters have brought unfired pots from the compounds where they were made to the firing place, a process that takes many hours. On each trip, a woman carries two pots on her head and one in her hand. Here wavy-lipped flower pots, along with pots for storing water, cooking, and carrying embers, can be seen.


(...) When the women and girls have brought all the pots to the firing place, they begin to construct the mound by placing a layer of branches on the ground. The pots are positioned on and amid the branches and then grass is piled high to complete the mound. Although the mound contains the pots of many women, who are related through their husbands' extended families, each women is responsible for her own or her immediate family's pots within the mound.


When a mound is completed and the ground around has been swept clean of residual combustible material, a senior potter lights the fire. A handful of grass is lit and the woman runs around the circumference of the mound touching the burning torch to the dried grass. Some mounds are still being constructed as others are already burning. (...)

“The women of Kalabougou” by Janet Goldner, article published on African Arts, Spring 2007, Vol. 40, No. 1, Pages 74-79.

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Taken on March 7, 2009