“Say let it be spared from eyes for a ware cannot survive eyes:” Personification of pots among Oromo of Wallagga, Ethiopia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, the traditional manner of pottery-making persists, with pottery production connected to a series of other daily activities. The Wallagga region of the southwestern Ethiopian highlands, in particular, sees traditional pottery widely practiced and exclusively in the domain of women. In this society, pottery-making and the use of pottery vessels are informed and constrained by deeply-rooted metaphoric meanings connected to the technological practices. Pots are metaphorically associated with persons and the stages they pass through: youth, adulthood, old age, and death. More specifically, a wet pot metaphorically represents a baby, pots in use are associated with adults and damaged pots are linked to a deceased person.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-407
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
My deepest thanks to the Wallagga potters and farmers for their great support during fieldwork. The Authority of Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) and the West Wallagga Zone Culture Bureau facilitated the study. I am indebted to Desalegn Abebaw and Dajene Dandana of ARCCH and Belachew Tafesse of West Wallagga Zone Culture Bureau for facilitating the field work. Fieldwork for research was funded by the NGS/Waitt Grants Program-W239-12 grant. I am also very grateful to anonymous reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • Ethiopia
  • Oromo
  • personification of pot
  • pottery-making
  • Wallagga

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