Posted by / Tuesday 23 May 2017 / No comments

The importance of pottery in the pre-colonial economy of Ghana

Abstract, Ancient, Antique, Area, Art
Pottery was a major traditional occupation of the indigenous people of pre-colonial Ghana. This was the situation long before the arrival of the Europeans to the shores of pre-colonial Ghana. The major locations where pottery was dominant were Mpraeso and the Krobo areas of the Eastern Region, Volo and Koloenu in the Volta Region of present day Ghana.

At the very beginning of the process, the clay deposits were extracted and hipped at a location. It was then mixed with water to allow for easy pounding. The clay was then pounded to a desired texture based on the knowledge and skills of the potter. The following stage was the kneading and moulding of the clay mixture into desired objects.

After kneading, the objects were smoothened and left to dry. After they were dried, they were then packed and fired to make them stronger. Sometimes, the clay objects were painted in either black or brown colours.  The final stage of the pottery process was to take the objects into the markets for sale or to leave them at “the factory” for merchants to come and buy.

Provision of vessels
One of the reasons why pottery was important to the pre-colonial economy of Ghana was that it made vessels readily available to the people for domestic use. The indigenous people prepared meals using the pots, some boiled herbs in their pots and grounded pepper in other earthen-ware utensils. In short, the availability of pottery products improved the efficiency with which domestic chores such as cooking, fetching water and washing were undertaken.   

Job creation
At every stage of the pottery making, that is, from the extraction of clay to the firing of the clay products, labour was expended. Sometimes, the labour was hired and paid for. The producers of the pottery sold the items out to marketers for onward sale to distant markets or nearby communities. The local pottery industry in pre-colonial Ghana created employment for the people.  

Generation of personal income
The workers in the pottery production chain were remunerated for their services. The traders who bought pottery from the potters paid money before the products were taken away. The traders then added their own profit margin and sold them in the markets. All these people earned money in one way or the other. One can therefore conclude that pottery in the pre-colonial economy of Ghana served as an income generation mechanism for the local people.

Value addition
The pottery was also important because of the way it allowed for value to be added to the clay deposits. The clay deposits, by itself could not have created any employment or earn income for anybody unless some level of value was added. In effect, the pottery industry in pre-colonial Ghana added value to the raw clay deposit found in abundance in their locality.

Encouraged trade
The various objects which were molded, such as the pots, vessels, bowls etc., were traded in by the people. There was a ready market for the products and they had to be taken to those markets. The pottery products were sold for money. There was so much activity surrounding the clay deposits from extraction to the sale of the objects. The pottery industry in Ghana was therefore important because it stimulated trade.

1. a. Describe the process of pottery-making.

    b. Outline five ways in which the pottery industry was important in pre-colonial Ghana. 

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