maandag 9 mei 2011


Archaeological excavations usual yield heaps of earthenware and ours is no exception. Besides the Chinese ceramics, which are relatively well-known, we have exhumed many sherds of local pottery, the manufacturing process and distribution network of which is still to be studied. In order to gain more insight into how people produced and used these pots, we embarked on a small ethnoarchaeological trip.
We first observed that some of the pots still used for cooking and keeping rice were very similar to the sherds we found at Bukit Gombak. After a short enquiry, we discovered that all the earthen pots used in the Tanah Datar area came from one single village: Galo Dandang, near Rambatan.
Although the industry is quickly decreasing, a few women of Galo Dandang still produce traditional ceramics and sell them to vendors who distribute ceramics in the markets of the Tanah Datar area. We have met one of these craftswomen, Ibu Juharnis, 53 years old, who had the kindness to show and explain to us how she shapes and bakes ceramics at home.
Ibu Juharnis goes once a month in the rice fields to dig the clay she needs. The clay is simply  mixed with sand (without any decantation or cleaning) and wedged. Ibu Juharnis shapes the clay lumps by hand, using a bamboo or wooden ring and a paddle. The pot is smoothened using a stone (inside) and a bamboo stick (outside), dried and baked in an open fire at the rear of Ibu Juharnis’ house.

Ibu Juharnis, holding a large stone inside the pot, shapes the clay by hitting it with a wooden paddle.

Ibu Juharnis smoothens the inside of the pot with a stone

Smoothening the outside with a bamaboo stick

After the pot has dried for one hour, Ibu Juharnis adds a rim.
Firing the pots behind the house