- Museum number
- Guardian Crossword
Dish, red earthenware, press-moulded and burnished with no foot or rim, incised with a square crossword motif in the centre, a geometric border pattern, and a tiny scorpion. The numbers incised in the corners of the squares, the blacked out squares indicated with incised decoration, the others left plain. The spaces around the crossword with all-over tooling using a square-ended tool. Faint burnishing marks in the form of parallel lines are visible on the surface, especially on the plain areas.
- Production date
Diameter: 38 centimetres
Height: 6 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- See Alan Windsor, 'A Sudanese Potter in England', London 2015, p. 80, pl. 63, for a similar Guardian crossword dish. The tiny scorpion was another way of signing the piece. In this piece Nigoumi adapts traditional Sudanese incised ornament and burnishing to an everyday subject from his adopted home.
The geometric incised patterns had a variety of sources, one of which was likely to have been the prehistoric pottery of 2300-1500BC from Sudan, found at Faras. These ancient pots were made of earthenware, incised with diamond and other patterns,before firing to leave a black or red finish, which was then burnished (Windsor p. 52). For examples in the British Museum, see Windsor pl. 35, p. 56.
Nigoumi's burnishing technique was immensely time-consuming. In Nigoumi's own words:
'I use the spoon to burnish with which I find quite satisfactory. To burnish to a really glossy finish I found that the process had to be started at an early stage of leather-hardening. The burnishing of the surface is repeated as many as ten to fifteen times while the clay is getting stiffer. The burnishing must stop immediately when the clay appears to be going beyond the leather-hard stage. Finger-tips are then used to rub the surface producing in action a squeaky sound. After that the pot is left to dry before the decoration is applied. It is also worth mentioning that the surface of a burnished pot is extremely sensitive to the touch and could get scratched so easily even with the broken skin on the finger-tips. The pot is then carefully placed in the kiln and fired at about 800-850º C. Above this temperature the burnishing is lost.' (Windsor, p. 66).
Burnishing marks like those on this dish are visible on several of Nigoumi's pieces, see Windsor pl. pl/ 19, p. 35; pl. 53, p.72; pl.56, p. 75.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number