Clay Pots African

African Clay PotAfrican Clay Pots or 'Ukhamba' (calabash) in Zulu are traditionally used for storing African Beer 'Tswala', this is a thick alcohol beverage made from fermented millet. A small lid made of grass is placed over the top of the bowl to keep out insects. In Zulu tradition the Ukhamba is placed on a grass mat in the centre of the room or area and the participants gather around and share the contents. They use a small gourd to extract the beverage, small sips are encouraged and savoured, leaving the remaining contents only to be finished by those who are older and wiser.
HOW TO MAKE AN AFRICAN CLAY POT. The first step is to find suitable clay, through the ages African Potters have established secret area's which are rich in clay, they collect this grey, brown 'mud' which usually has a grainy consistency and leave it out to dry in the sun. The dried clay is ground in a mortar and then passed through a sieve to remove stones, this is mixed together with crushed fired clay which helps reduce shrinking and cracking. Lastly water is added until the right consistency is reached. The potter then rolls clay into long sausage shaped lengths of clay, which are coiled around each other to form the base of the pot, and then they move upwards to form the shape of the pot. The clay coils are then smoothed out. The pot is decorated at this stage where intricate African designs are etched into the outside of the pot.The pots are left in the sun to dry for four days after which they are taken to be fired. The Zulu Potters have developed a very simple method to do this by making open fire pits of dried cactus leaves which are abundant in their area. The pots are placed on their sides within the pits and fired, resulting in the uneven shading of the clay pots when they are removed.The final stage of the clay pot is to add color, usually either brown or black and then burnished to create it's high gloss look.


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