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Culture & Religion

Crafting Handmade Pottery in Kalabougou, Mali

This photo was snapped by Marco Belluci in Kalabougu, Mali. 

His description:

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.

Kalabougou’s women have traditionally been employed as pottery makers. About 2,000 pots are created a week and shipped off to be sold at markets across Mali. The villagers’ prowess has attracted international attention. Belluci refers to a journal article detailing process:

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… 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… When a mound is completed and the ground around has been swept clean of residual combustible material, a senior potter lights the fire.

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

Here’s a video of the process:

Photo credit: Marco Bellucci / Flickr

Video: Lela Barker


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