Production date
Papua New Guinea
East Sepik
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Object detail

Pottery Bowl - KAMANA: earthernware, conical base, flaring sides, exterior surface carved with curvilinear motifs.
Production date
Production place
L273 x W269 x H107 mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
Although their complex imagery can include supernatural subjects, kamana are not ritual objects but ordinary food bowls kept and used within the household.

The Koiwat eating bowl for sago, kamana, like most Middle Sepik ware, is traded along the river in return for necessary items. Women are responsible for collecting and preparing enough clay in one sitting to make two to three sago eating bowls. Utilising the coiling technique, the women then mould each vessel into its characteristic convex form.

When the pot is leather-hard a man will burnish the surface and draw a basic design of two parallel lines; later cutting into the clay with the chip carving method, leaving patterns engraved into the surface. The decorative scheme is curvilinear and a rhythmic effect is achieved by the repetition of certain elements found within the local environment. Firing is generally done by the women and takes place after the pot has been left to dry for about two weeks.

Painting of the vessel is done by men, who use red, yellow, white and black earth pigments mixed with water. The vessel is then left to stand inside a house to become smoked or covered with soot before it is used or traded. When in use, the conical kamana are placed in cane rings (plaited by men from split liana vines) and set around the cooking pots ready to receive the sago.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
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