Women using traditional pottery


A visual exploration on the theme of women using their pottery in performance, creation, transportation, market sales and rituals.


Adrica, Toubou woman souvenir seller. western Ennedi. Chad

 Toubou woman souvenir seller. western Ennedi. Chad

Photo – © Jacques Taberlet.


The traditional usage of pottery taps into a rich vein of customs, from tribal ceremony and production techniques to being integrated into dance performance and street festivals. The ancient traditions used the pot as a metaphor for sustenance and divine plentitude following the ancient tribal belief of enacting visual rituals to attract abundance. The Bihan Parab “Indigenous Seeds Festival ” in India has a procession of women carrying decorated earthen pots containing seeds accompanied by youths with drums, which passes through all the villages.. The leading woman carries a special pot constructed with paddy seeds, symbolizing Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Ritual dancing among worshippers of the thunder deity, Shango, sometimes balance a pottery container of fire on their heads while dancing. The Egbado Yoruba have dances that include balancing “delicate terracotta figures” on their heads while moving their arms and torso.
Some of the surviving ancient cultures value and preserve these traditions even more so now with the pervasive growth of modern technology.



Calabashes being sold by a female street merchant ,Mali

Selling Calabashes on the street in Mali, Africa


The American Native Indians have undergone a revival of their indigenous pottery art and rescued techniques and knowledge from the claws of obscurity and created successful enterprises from their traditional arts. It has been recognized as an essential path to preserving their ancestral traditions and craftsmanship and has led to the advancement of their art forms and become a vital resource.
It’s fascinating to see that many of these cultures prefer to adhere to the ancient traditions of their ancestors, excavating their clay, using hand assembly and firing their pots using age-old practices rather than modern techniques. The reverence to their traditions has reinforced their culture through its methods, simplicity and spiritual observations of feast days, seasonal festivals and tribal laws. These customs can date back thousands of years and carry a deep resonance so its understandable how pottery making and other crafts have helped to maintain a sense of cohesiveness in their culture. An ancient belief existed that Athena, the patroness of crafts, imparted rejuvenation to women who dedicated themselves to creative tasks such as – pottery, weaving, tapestry, and playing music.
Sometimes the whole family is involved in the production of the pottery crafts, and the woman are the primary artisans. Their innate sensitivity is respected, especially with certain pots and figures created with specific decorations that can impart spiritual awareness through their physical handling. In some instances, the pottery arts is solely a matriarchal endeavor.


Traditional pottery making at Kalabougou village in Mali


 Kalabougou women making a mound to fire their pots

Kalabougou women using tree cuttings to make a mound to fire their pots

Segou, Mali




The women-in the village of Kalabougou on the River-Niger specialise in producing hand made clay pots

 Women from the village of Kalabougou on the River Niger baking their hand made clay pots



Quenching - Steam rises from a burning hot-pot that-has been immersed in the berry mixture. The older woman-behind is picking up a smaller pot with a pair of tongs

 Quenching –  Immersing hot pots into a berry mixture. The older woman in the background is picking up a smaller pot with a pair of tongs



A red stone slip,-from an at market, is applied to the formed and dried pot before firing

 A Kalabougou woman applying a red stone slip for glazing, from an art market, to the formed and dried pot before firing.





Allan Rickmann flickr - Kalabougou women firing pots

  Kalabougou women firing pots, Mali – Africa

Allan Rickmann –  flickr



Female potter making large clay pots at the village of Kalabougou

 Female potter hand making large clay pots at the village of Kalabougou



tribal woman forming clay in Mali

Tribal woman forming a pot – Kalabougou village

photo by Jacqueline Hoerter & Patrick Houdebine

See video below for more Kalbougou Pottery



Fratelli-Fanciullacci jug

 Fratelli Fanciullacci jug with glazed and unglazed surface




Karaja pottery-making

Pipe smoking female potter

Ceramic is an art form exclusive to women among the Karajá in Brazil

Photo: Vladimir Kozak



Acasia wood figure of a servant girl. New Kingdom._louvre_museum

 Acasia wood figure of a servant girl. New Kingdom, Egypt

Louvre Museum



Africa Zulu girl carrying a clay pot on her- ead

 African Zulu girl carrying a traditional pot



Alfarera of Cocucho in Charapan,-producing pot with her daughter

 Alfarera of Cocucho in Charapan, Mexico – making a pot with her daughter



A woman sells pots at Hassan Nagar in city of Hyderabad

Selling pots at Hassan Nagar in city of Hyderabad



Bal Anat pot dancing

 Zoraida performing the Pot Dance Choreography as part of the original Bal Anat belly dance troupe begun by Jamila Salimpour in 1968 in California




 Bal Ana dancing




Clay Pot Sotho People

 Sotho woman with pot, ZA




 Woman carrying pot in a Olbia Tempio street parade, Italy



Dogon Tribe People

 Dogon Tribe women with pots




 Apache woman with woven pot

Photo – Native News Network



Matka,-a-traditional-game-in-which-group-of-men women and children break-a-pot-which-is-full-of-butter

Children playing Matka, a traditional Indian game where a pot of ghee is broken.




lithograph, Muramasa Kudo, Japanese

Reclining women with pot – Japanese lithograph –  Muramasa Kudo





 Hopi woman with a jar.  Their art used symbols and signs to represent their ideas, beliefs, dreams, and visions.

” The most successful imitator of this ancient ware, who is not a Hopi at all, but the Tewa woman Nampeyo, of the village Hano, says that its superiority was obtained by the use of lignite, by which the prehistoric potters were able to fire their vessels for several days; but a well-informed traditionalist, on the contrary, asserts that it is the result of burying the clay in moist sand for a long time, perhaps two moons, which ’caused something in the clay to rot’.”  – crystalinks.com



Ganges pot protest, India



Up to 400 women  participating in a yatra ( pilgrimage ) in a celebration of their identity as women and equal human beings. In defiance, they took water from a pump at the Ganges River designated for use only by upper caste peoples, which excluded them. After they took the water back to their villages they returned to the Ganges riverside once again, throwing the pots into the river, and collectively taking a vow that they would not let themselves be oppressed in the year ahead.

(WNV / Priyanka Borpujari)





Ganges Yatra – Bihar’s Khagaria district – 2011




Photo by 20th-century Indian photographer A.L.Syed



Indian girl weavng Photo by A L Syed

Indian girl weaving  Photo by A.L.Syed



india---EnlasdunasdeKuri-India-(FILEminimizer) Three Indian ladies carrying water pots

 Indian water bearers





Lucinda Mudge handmade coil vases,The Gallery at Grande Provance, Franschhoek

Painting handmade coil vases, – Lucinda Mudge

The Gallery at Grande Provance, Franschhoek, South Africa




Nesta Nala---famous-for-her-sought-after-pottery-specifically-the-Ukhamba--a-smoke-black,-thin-walled,-round-bottomed-beer-pot,

 Nesta Nala—famous for her sought after pottery specifically the ‘Ukhamba’–a smoke black, thin walled, round bottomed beer pot,



Off to Market, Madagascar,-2006

Pot bearing women walking in the early morning through giant Baobab trees to the market in Madagascar, 2006

phoho- Beth Moon



Indian pottery factory

A women strolling past a pottery shop –  Jaisalmer, Rajasthan






 Painting pots in Pondicherry




Production of pottery by women of the Kabylia and Aures mountains

A woman from the Kabylia and Aures mountains making pottery




Purepecha Woman and Clay Pots in Cocucho, Michoacan, Mexico

A Purepecha Woman with her clay pots in Cocucho, Michoacan, Mexico





Rosa Covarrubias circa 1926 by Edward Weston




Royal Worcester Egyptian Water Carrier James Hardey

Royal Worcester ‘Egyptian Water Carrier’ figurine modelled by  James Hardey





Nuer woman carrying a pot.

Nuer woman, Sudan




San Diego City & County Adminstration Building

Art Deco statue of women with pot –  San Diego City & County Administration Building

penfoto – flickr





Street art in Senegal





South Tunisian girl with pot




The daily grind-Traditional painted house in Kassena, Burkina Faso. By Louis Montrose

 ‘The daily grind’– Traditional painted house in Kassena, Burkina Faso.

By Louis Montrose


 Tunisian Bedouin-woman.-Africa

An old postcard photo of a Bedouin girl in Tunisia




The famous Venda potter,-Rebecca Matibe sits-in her garden with one of-her sculptures behind her and one of her traditional pots

Renown Venda potter, Rebecca Matib



Matka earthen pot race in desert sand dune Bikaner camel festival-2011

Woman racing with Matka earthen pots in the desert at the Bikaner camel festival-2011




Vintage postcard of a Chaouri/Berber girl



 Ghana Kassana mub home

Women painting a mud house with zigzag notifs – Kassena Compound, Ghana




Traditional dress of Afghanistan

An Afghani women wearing a traditional outfit




Woman in pottery shop, Jaipur, India

Pot emporium, Jaipur, India





A women wearing a tribal dress in Jaisalmer, India

Photo J. Versteeg




Four women carrying water jars,on their heads

 Women carrying large water jars



Royal Dux porcelain-Figurine-Grecian man and woman carrying pots

Figurine of Grecian man and woman – Royal Dux porcelain





From the book, African Image by Sam Haskins




FRENCH SCHOOL (19th Century). Woman with Urn. Bronze with greenish-brown patina.

Woman with Urn – French Art Nouveau





French Art Deco Figural Statue by Pierre LeFaguays, 1920's.Standing woman holding a pot

French Art Deco Figural Statue by Pierre LeFaguays





detall-de-les-rajoles-by-Matilde-Martínez Portugese wall tiles

Detall de les rajoles by Matilde Martínez




Harem-Dancer Raqs-Sharki-with-veil - Middle Eastern belly dnacer

Raks Sharqi veil dancing on elevated heels with pots



Dassanech-woman with spear and pot

Daasanach warrior girl

 The Daasanach tribe is one of the ancient tribes of Africa. These pastoralists live in three different East African countries, Kenya, the Sudan, and Ethiopia.




19th C. Terracotta figure of Rebecca at the well by Friedrich Goldscheider female sculpture

Terracotta figure of Rebecca at the well by Friedrich Goldscheider

19th Century



Gabriel Argy-Rousseau (1885-1953), Pâte de verre, Vase.

Pâte de verre, Vase by Gabriel Argy-Rousseau (1885-1953)




Omo-Valley Mursi tribe woman with pot

Mursi tribe woman with pot, Ethiopia


African girls with small pot

Photo Irving Penn – 1967



Girl carrying brass pot Welcome-Ceremony.-Rajasthan,-Northern-India

Welcome Ceremony. Rajasthan, India



Royal-Dux-Art-Nouveau ceramic sculpture of a girl with a pot

Royal Dux Art Nouveau Ceramic Figural Bowl




Furio-Piccirilli sculpture of an angel carrying a pot

Sculpture by Furio Piccirilli

Photo by Eugen Neuhaus


Kalabougou pottery in Mali




Also see the Veniceclayartists post – Women with Pots






NEXT POST  —  ‘2 ceramicists with vivid illustration’



  1. james gano
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    thank you for showing me this super collection of pots I am just starting

  2. shakilafarook
    Posted June 29, 2015 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    very nice

  3. marga boustedt
    Posted January 9, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Very interesting to notice the photographers different approaches of the photograped women- ethnografic, sexualized, cheramic, orientalistic or touristic. Thanks for sharing!

  4. ELSA
    Posted January 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Senti una sensacion agradable ver estas fotografias. me llamo tanto la atencion de las chicas de color, que hermosas qué naturalidad. solo queria decir que me agradaron tanto. admiro a los artistas, que quede asombrada de la belleza de sus trabajos. Saludos desde Peru. No se el ingles, cuanto me gustaria conoocer los comentarios.

  5. robbie
    Posted January 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    translation from above- I felt a nice feeling to see these photographs. I therefore call the attention of the girls of color, how naturally beautiful. just I wanted to say that pleased me so much. I admire the artists that I was amazed at the beauty of their work. Greetings from Peru. No English, as I would like conoocer comments.

  6. sharron wilcock
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for all these images very interesting

  7. Anonymous
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank You very much for this interesting information about Ceramics and Pottery Arts. It has really helped in my research on Pots, currently am working on shooting a documentary about Pot and its various uses in Africa and i look forward to work with you. +2348030904810 http://www.potofafrica.com

  8. Pinki
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Wonderful sharing !

    Matka is not an Indian traditional game. Matka is a clay pot in Indian language Hindi.

    Children are playing a drama related to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna has been used to steal butter breaking Matka. So every year on His birthday ‘Janmashtami’ kids as well as elders do the same.

    Just for info !!!

  9. shakila - Mauritius
    Posted January 21, 2022 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I have gone through all the photos.very beautiful. This remind me of ancestors who were working hard for success. each one expressing something important. I love the traditional way of cooking the claypot. Great ideas.

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