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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reconstructing the History of an African Ceramic Tradition: Technology, Slavery and Agency in the Region of Kadiolo (Mali)
Author:Frank, Barbara E.
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Mali
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Architecture and the Arts
Development and Technology
Cultural Roles
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/cea.1993.1505
Abstract:The potters of the Kadiolo region of southern Mali challenge the validity of the generally accepted model of craft production in Mande societies. Distinguished as Mande from the majority Senufo population in the region, they are nonetheless not the wives of blacksmiths as expected within the ideology and practice of most Mande peoples. Their husbands are 'mute' griots who no longer practise 'jeliya' (singing the praises of patrons in return for gifts); they themselves, however, do practise as griots. In the present article, the author links social identity, craft technology and artistic production in order to reconstruct the history of these women artists and of a specific African ceramic tradition. Fieldwork was done notably in two villages: Doguélédugu and Sissingué. A comparison of the distinctive aspects of the women's technology with techniques employed by other potters in this part of West Africa shows that their technology is not Mande in origin. There is some evidence to suggest that the mothers of these women, who taught them their pottery skills, might well have been slaves coming from elsewhere. Forced by circumstance to lose their social identity, their descendants were able to construct a new identity as griots and potters of acclaim throughout the Kadiolo region. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 525).