Traditional clay ports, South Africa

Arts and Crafts – Traditional Clay Pots

Mathabo Sejhobo lives in the Western foothills of the Mighty Drakensberg Mountains, amongst the dark basaltic rocks that are cemented together with red clay soils.

To manufacture her clay, Mathabo uses two rocks, one larger hollowed out to accept the smaller rounded, cigar shaped rock with which to grind the hard rock like red soil into a fine powder.

 It is this powder that she then collects, wets down and works until it is a smooth pliable compound of clay which she will then shape into one of her beautifully crafted, deep red and black earthen pots.

Once the pots have been hand shaped, there is no throwing wheel here in these rural hills, each and every one is lovingly hand crafted and shaped. So once the clay pot has reached its final shape it is left to rest for a while.

Close to where Mathabo’s neat workshop lies and completely in the open air is a small circle of hard Basalt rocks. This is the kiln in which the new pot will be fired.

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Mathabo sets out to find, what is a readily available fuel in the form of dried cow patties or simply cow dung. She collects this to prepare a slow burning fire in the stone circle.

First, she stacks the pots in the fireplace surrounding each with some dried cow dung and lights the fire. It is not a hot burning fire but rather a smouldering, smoky fire perfect for gently cooking the pots.

It is a slow process and the pots are regularly turned to allow the heat and the smoke to distribute evenly around them, giving the pots their characteristic deep red and natural black colouring that makes them so attractive.

This is an ancient process, almost as old as the very hills amongst which she and her people live.

traditional clay pots south africa

These unique clay pots are handmade, all have their own special flair and no product will be exactly the same.

south african traditional clay pots
traditional clay pot south africa

Clay Pot

2 litre, approx 20 x 20 cm

R 220 + shipping costs

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Clay Pot

10 litre, approx 30 x 25 cm

R 490 + shipping costs