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Burnished pots

Ganda, late 19th - early 20th century AD
From Uganda

Pottery making is carried out in the dry season in many parts of Africa for practical and symbolic reasons. The heat of the sun is required to dry them to a certain hardness before firing. If pots are not sufficiently hard, cracks appear. During the rainy season people work in the fields, leaving little time for pottery. It is also considered important that pots are fired during the dry season to avoid supernatural consequences such as the destruction of pots.

This pot, glazed with graphite, is reproduced in the shape of a gourd and would be placed on an ornamental woven pot-ring of vegetable fibre.

Pots of this kind were made for the royal court and for other notables, in contrast with the coarser red ware commonly used. Unlike in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, in Uganda the potters are men, and the royal potters, Kujona, were a special group who received land in exchange for pottery.

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Burnished pots

Burnished pots


More information


J. Mack (ed.), Africa: arts and cultures (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

N. Barley, Smashing pots, feats of clay f (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


Height: 30.000 cm
Height: 30.000 cm
Height: 30.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1901.11-13.50, 51;AOA 1971.Af38.2


Gift of Sir H.H. Johnston and Mrs M. Trowell


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