Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ecstatic Pottery

Malidoma Some describes the process by which women in his home village of Dagara, Burkina Faso, make pottery.

"In the interests of producing something that is an extension of their wholeness, the women will begin by chanting and singing together, echoing one another. The work is not in the form of a production line, even though a production line would have yielded more than enough of these practical containers. Nor do the women work alone. Each person has clay. They are seated in a circle, and they chant until they are in some sort of ecstatic place, and it is from that place that they begin molding the clay. It is as if the knowledge of how to make pots is not in their brains, but in their collective energy. The product becomes an extension of the collective energy of the circle of women.

"I have watched this process unfold countless times. The women can sit all day in front of two dozen mounds of clay, doing nothing but chanting - until the last hours, when in a flurry of activity all kinds of pots come forth. Imagine a job where two-thirds of the time was spent chanting, and one-third was spent in production! The product of work here, the pot, embodies the intimacy and wholeness experienced by the women over the course of the day. The women understand that is is necessary to reach that place of wholeness before they can bring something out of it."

The Healing Wisdom of Africa, p67.

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