Ceramics in Africa

  • Olivier P. Gosselain
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8911

Pottery making is a very ancient craft in Africa, as some of the oldest pottery remains known in the world were discovered on this continent. Dating from around 10,000 BCE – i.e., one or two millennia after the inception of the Jomon pottery in Japan – they were excavated in the Aïr Region of Niger (West Africa) (Haour 2003).

Despite its age, the craft is still alive in many parts of the continent. It has of course witnessed a lot of changes through the centuries, in regard to the forms, functions and decorations of the products, but also in terms of manufacturing techniques, scale of production or the social status of the potters. The last decades have been particularly significant, due to the massive introduction of plastic and metal containers, social and economic upheavals, the development of tourism and urban lifestyle, and the geographic extension of individual movements. In most places, ancient pottery functions such as cooking, handling, and serving have been abandoned, while...

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  • Olivier P. Gosselain

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