An ethnographic study pottery production, decorative styles and functions in relation to prehistoric pottery from Mumbwa caves

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Chinyana, Bitches
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The University of Zambia
The focus of this study is on production, function and motifs of modern pottery from communities of Mumbwa area. It revolves around selected villages of Mukwasha, Lutuna, Shapole, Kansonso, Chibongwe, Kapeta, Kasalu, Kutemba, Mukwiza, Chooba and Sipati. An ethnographic study of pottery making process was done involving female potters with a view to understand pottery production, function and decorative motifs for purposes of interpreting prehistoric ceramics from Mumbwa caves. Previous studies of Mumbwa caves pottery had played the role of time marker and cultural identifier, being utilised in culture-historical reconstruction. While typological and chronological investigations have dominated pottery analysis, these studies did not examine the meaning and significance of motifs /decoration. The study revealed the technical choices associated with the manufacture of ceramics, namely, selection and procurement of raw materials, processes of clay, vessel formation, decoration, drying and firing. Analysis of contemporary pottery revealed functional attributes that are defined based on vessel morphology, technology of manufacture and use-alteration while decorative styles reflect social conventions and symbolic meanings. The study further showed that there was a strong correlation between prehistoric ceramics from Mumbwa caves and contemporary pottery in the Mumbwa communities in such pottery attributes as decorative techniques and motifs, vessel wall thickness, vessel forms, rim profiles, basal shapes, neck form, orifice size, surface treatment, surface colour, sooting, pitting and chipping wear patterns, clay texture and method of manufacture. Thus, the study showed that pottery industries in the Mumbwa area are indicative of a cultural continuum in terms of production, function and meaning of motifs from prehistoric times to the recent period.
Pottery production--Zambia