Pottery is usually a woman’s craft and a typical Zulu method of pottery follows.

Good clay or Ibumba gathered from the mountainside combining red and dark clay with sherds. Clay is ground to fine powder on an Itshe or grinding stone and then mixed with water. Pots are made by hand coiling and smoothed with a piece of calabash or stone.

They are then covered with blankets and dried in a hut for up to two days. A further seven days of drying outside is completed before firing. Pots are placed in a shallow pit over which dry aloe and wood are arranged where they are burnished to a mottled, leather-like brown surface and remain in the embers until the fire has been completely extinguished.

Pots intended for storage or cooking remain in this state while pots intended for eating or drinking undergo another firing process utilizing cakes of dry cow dung. During the second process the fire must become red-hot after which it is smothered with powdered dung. As a result these pots emerge possessing a black surface that is then rubbed with gooseberry leaves, a small flattening stone, imbokode and animal fat. This gives a glossy black finish to the pottery. “Art and Craft of Southern Africa” Rhoda Levinsohn Delta Books, 1984

Sorghum beer- Utshwala is served from large spherical pots. Pots used for entertaining large gatherings and festivals symbolize hospitality and are invariably decorated to enhance beauty. Decoration is incised into the surface of the pot using zigzag, arc, cross-hatch, triangle and diamond motives. Pots embellished with up-ended triangles signal that men alone may use them since the triangle is the male symbol. Beer pots must be covered to protect them from insects and spells caused by depositing of evil medicine. The pot cover is a saucer shape, Imbenge, woven from ilala palm leaf and traditionally beaded when used for entertaining guests.

 
 
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