Not currently on display at the V&A

Pot

19th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Zulu pottery achieved a high degree of sophistication in the 19th century. The use of pottery became more widespread as Zulu communities changed from scattered, mostly pastoral clans to being concentrated in large military kraals. Large clay pots were made for the mass storage of food and brewing of beer (utshwala). A variety of smaller pots of different shapes and sizes was created for serving and drinking beer.

Making pottery was a highly-specialised skill. Clay was dug near the homestead, dried out and later reconstituted with water when required. Different kinds of clay were used for different sizes of pot, with finer clay being used for smaller, more delicate vessels. Pots were constructed using the 'thumb and coil' method before having their external surfaces smoothed down with a small pebble. Following a preliminary firing, smaller pots were re-fired in a smoky fire to produce a glossy, dark finish.

While original museum documentation describes this vessel as 'Zulu' its unusual shape and crude finish would not have appealed to Zulu users. It is possible, instead, that the pot was intended for European use, perhaps as a vase.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Earthenware, unglazed burnished clay
Brief Description
Earthenware pot, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, 19th century
Physical Description
Ridged, round earthenware vessel with added, now chipped, neck. Burnished and re-fired in smoky fire to produce a dark finish.
Dimensions
  • Height: 24cm
  • (Maximum width) width: 19cm
  • (Of neck opening) diameter: 4.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Museum of Practical Geology no.688
Credit line
Presented by Major Garden
Object history
Accessions register entry: '[pasted in label] Bottle of dark grey earthenware, with lustrous black surface. From Natal. Zulu, 19th century. H 9 in., diam. 7 3/4 in. Given by Major Garden. Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street. / Bulbous body with deep vertical grooves, short narrow neck.'
Production
Zulu
Summary
Zulu pottery achieved a high degree of sophistication in the 19th century. The use of pottery became more widespread as Zulu communities changed from scattered, mostly pastoral clans to being concentrated in large military kraals. Large clay pots were made for the mass storage of food and brewing of beer (utshwala). A variety of smaller pots of different shapes and sizes was created for serving and drinking beer.



Making pottery was a highly-specialised skill. Clay was dug near the homestead, dried out and later reconstituted with water when required. Different kinds of clay were used for different sizes of pot, with finer clay being used for smaller, more delicate vessels. Pots were constructed using the 'thumb and coil' method before having their external surfaces smoothed down with a small pebble. Following a preliminary firing, smaller pots were re-fired in a smoky fire to produce a glossy, dark finish.



While original museum documentation describes this vessel as 'Zulu' its unusual shape and crude finish would not have appealed to Zulu users. It is possible, instead, that the pot was intended for European use, perhaps as a vase.
Collection
Accession Number
4294-1901

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record createdJuly 23, 2008
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