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Potteries in Ethiopia

Potteries in Ethiopia

Long before civilization during the Aksumite kingdom lots of artifacts were found for kings and royal families potteries specially made for different purposes. Since then the common people also use these techniques till present day. Although much of this technique and finesse has been lost, artisans continue to create both decorative and functional pottery items around the country. The common pottery for the common people includes Deist (Cooking pots), Insera (Water pot), Mitad (Injera pan), Gan (Water or beverage storage) and Jebena (Coffee pot) . Most of the pieces are burnished and finished with a black color and sometimes reddish brown.

The artisans  will often decorate the pots with their fingers or pieces of straw then once the pieces have been shaped and dried the items is then tested and sealed. Some people also after getting them from the market they will fire them once more to get it more stronger and to get a better test.

It is said food prepared with the clay pots have special test and delicious flavors. Often special meals are prepared in new pots to celebrate the purchase. The local drinks like Tej, Tela or Borde has different test when it is prepared with the clay potteries.


Traditional Ethiopian pottery is made mainly from special red soil. The soil is add into soda ash and other local soil to make it hard and smooth. Then mixed with water to create a paste like form to make it more manageable during its formation of the desired shapes. The traditional way is just use the hand and build the different size and shape. It is practices make these items get its shape so there is no set of standards.

 Once the basic shape is created, it will be fired or dried by sun light. It has started some professional clay makers has increased its standard by using modern brushing and even painting a ceramic type of method to give it a more modern look. Burnishing was developed before glazes existed to make pottery more waterproof

The common color in Ethiopia is either natural red clay colored or black. The black color is created by coating the object in oil and then firing it in the kiln. 

You can find these pots in the local market and now some NGO with the local ladies forming house decorative and even special galleries are now found in the capital Addis Ababa. You can also find a special kind of potteries in Gondar by the Felashas’ who are the direct decedents of the Israelites migrated long time bake to this region and make their livelihoods on Potteries.



05 September 2017


Cultural Tours


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