Pots as things with thingness | The 20th century handbuilt pots of the Rorke’s Drift women crafters.

Ronnie Watt - 2014, Art At Work Today


… things also primarily achieve their mnemonic significance from being a medium, something that allows memory and meaning to be recorded and codified for later recollection…
Bjørnar Olsen (1)

… things and society co-produce each other.
Ian Hodder (2)

Read more about author Ronnie Watt’s recent Taiwan trip to give a presentation on Rorke’s Drift at the Taipei Ceramics Biennale and Conference here.


A pot will exist merely as a pot when when all the attention is focussed on its actual and purported aesthetics and when its text is presented as abbreviated footnotes of its own and of its social history. Artifacts, wrote the sociologist Emile Durkheim, are social facts (3) and by glossing over a pot’s (and its potter’s) positioning in social history, we reduce it to a thing and deny it a thingness.

The opposite also holds true that when a pot is so romanticised in context of its social history, the pot qua pot becomes but the metatext to the social anthropological, material culture, archaeological, socio-political and art historical texts. We neglect to look at the pot as a thing in its very own right and as the very locus of the entanglement of man and material.

The pot is also prejudiced when it is reduced to nothing but a named pot where the mere name of the artist or craftsman or studio, or its association with a style or era or culture, is what makes it a collectable. As a cabinet object, such a pot invites the viewer to attribute a disassociated meaning to it rather than directing the viewer towards an understanding of it.

Take the example of an actual metatext for a pot in a current (2014) online catalogue of one of South Africa’s premier public ceramic collections:

  • Eureil Mbatha
    Reduced stoneware
    Height: 180mm Width:156mm

The inclusion of the pot in the collection denotes that it has significant merit but only the informed viewer who recognises the potter’s name (despite being misspelled) or the style and form, would be able to position it in context of the production of pots in traditional form but with a new artistic expression under European influence at the time of a tumultuous socio-political era in South Africa. The pot is in fact the work of Euriel Mbatha, one of the founding women handbuilders of pots at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre at Rorke’s Drift. Such omission of highly relevant autobiographical details of both potter and pot are regularly to be seen in the texts of fine art auctions’ lot listings and dealers’ advertisements of Rorke’s Drift pottery.

But does all of this actually matter? Does it not suffice that at the very least we recognise and celebrate a potter or a pot? My view is that along the way we are progressively losing focus on Rorke’s Drift pottery as “things with thingness” and that the “thing” rather than its “thingness” determines its collectability (and economic value). This essay has its specific focus on the reduction-fired handbuilt pots by the founding women of the workshop and I am therefore addressing their artistic heritage and works.

In her master’s thesis Tradition and innovation: Rorke’s Drift ceramics in the collection of the Durban Art Gallery, KwaZulu-Natal, Sarah Hosking (4) provides a detailed account of the history of the founding of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre at Rorke’s Drift (hereafter referred to as Rorke’s Drift) which I will summarise. The project was initiated in the early 1960s by the Swedish artist Bertha Hansson and Helge Fosseus, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South-East Region of South Africa. Fosseus envisaged self-help craft groups to assist Africans and successfully canvassed support in Sweden which enable him and Hansson to recruit teaching staff. Ulla and Peder Gowenius, the former specialising in textile art and weaving and the latter who was qualified in printmaking, sculpture and art education were contracted. The Gowenius’s were initially based at the Ceza Mission Hospital at Mapumulo in the KwaZulu-Natal Province where the teachers engaged female patients in sewing and weaving and the male patients in handcrafts, drawing, painting and printing. Starting in 1963 and over time, four workshops would be set up at Oskaersberg, site of the earlier Swedish mission station at Rorke’s Drift near Dundee, for weaving, sewing, printmaking and ceramics and which was known as the Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre. The ceramics workshop was created in 1968 though Hosking recounts that the earliest venture into ceramic production was in 1964 when the potter Kerstin Olsson copied the open-fired technique of a local woman potter and progressed to a wood-fired kiln which collapsed after just a few firings.

The history of the establishment and growth of the pottery workshop were documented by Garth Clark & Lynne Wagner, Ian Calder, Calder & Berit Sahlström (5-8) and Hosking of which a further summary must suffice. Clark & Wagner (9) identified the Danish potter Peter Tyberg with the founding of the pottery workshop in 1968. Dinah Molefe, a local potter from the neighbouring area of Nqutu (10) who was producing indigenous izinkamba (beer pots) in the Zulu tradition of coiling (handbuilding), was recruited to join the workshop and were later joined by Ivy Molefe; Lephinah Molefe and Nestah Molefe (11). local men of whom Gordon Mbatha was the first (12) were also recruited but were taught to throw on the wheel. The two other men were Joel Sibisi and Ephraim Ziqubu (13). The project was beset by problems with a poor drip-feed oil kiln, unstable local clay and a low output of unglazed stoneware, issues which were resolved by the South African potter Marietjie van der Merwe who became a regular visitor and advisor until her death in 1992. She designed and supervised the building of a 4,247m3 paraffin-fired kiln and introduced a neutral kaolin glaze to enhance the black, iron, yellow ochre and umber slips for surface decorations (14). She probably influenced the women to fully glaze their work (15). Electric kilns were introduced in 2000 (16).

Rorke’s Drift pottery found immediate appeal when it went on exhibition alongside the centre’s weavings at an exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery in 1968 and two years later the gallery acquired handbuilt and thrown works for the gallery’s permanent collection (17). The significance of this is that the works were the first by black South African artists to be acquired for inclusion in a public collection during the apartheid era (18), a time during which, wrote Liza van Robbroeck, black artists were consistently marginalised, excluded from education and exhibition opportunities, denied representation in national art collections and had their works reduced to curiosities (19).

Using “the materials and technical facilities of contemporary western arts”, the pottery workshop’s mission was to “nurture the unique artistic heritage of Africa”, “to train the studio potters for a professional career, with the emphasis on well-crafted wares” and offer the works for sale via outlets” (20-22).

Emily Hanna, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas at the Birmingham Museum of Art, speaks of “The Centrality of Ceramics in African Cultures” in referring to their “prominence … in traditional daily life and ritual … [the] indigenous systems of value and connoisseurship … [and] the African engagement with clay and aesthetic continuities between materials” (23). The latter part of the quote surely refers to indigenous knowledge systems of materials (clay) for the production of material culture (pots) which though utilitarian in purpose (cooking, brewing, storage, carrying), are cultural expressions as well as the potter’s self-expression.

The majority of the Rorke’s Drift women handbuilders belonged to the Sotho group and were skilled in producing pots in the traditional Sotho form such as mirifi for brewing and pitsa for cooking as well as Zulu forms of domestic pots (umsamo) and in particular the ukhamba (plural izikhamba) for the low-alcohol beer (utshwala). The Sotho tradition, explains Mathodi Freddie Motsamayi, is the making of pots by women using the coiling technique with decorations in red terracotta colours (Calder refers to bright-red ochre slips with a unique style of thickened lip (24-29). In Zulu pottery tradition, pots are decorated in brown and black colours which are burnished at the leather-hard stage, fired a second time to produce a glossy black surface and then polished with cow fat or waxes (30-31). Both cultures added decorative elements which could be as applied motifs or incised into the surface (sgraffito) or a combination of both. Zulu motifs included raised bumps (amasumpa), pinched surfaces and geometric designs of hatched and cross-hatched lines and grooves, zigzags and triangles which are borrowed from designs and repeat patterns on traditional Zulu mats (isithebe), Zulu basketry and beadwork and raised linear coils (32-36).

Distinctive indigenous form and designs were preserved in the women’s pots at Rorke’s Drift even with the addition of non-traditional features and sculptural appendages. Elizabeth Perrill (37) states that Indigenous Knowledge Systems of materials, methods, forms and values are not monolithic and permit an expansion of innovative aesthetics within and as a continuation of a culture. This permitted the women to create in their own image, forms that were more western in concept such as bowls and vases (uvazi) (38), the bird-pots which were probably modelled on 19th century European hen-on-nest forms (39) and transforming vessel shapes into purely sculptural forms (40-41). Clark & Wagner commented on the first impression of “sameness of shape and decoration” (42) even though the potters worked as independent artists. Though “independent” the women remained “a collective representation of several social and cultural groups” (43) and for the most part stayed within the parameters of traditional Sotho and Zulu forms.

The decorative features ranged from a treatment of the clay body itself to painting in layers of slips, (44) the latter which Hosking emphasises as a departure from indigenous tradition (45) and which generally covered most of the surface but were “sympathetic to the underlying form of the piece”. She refers to abstract, repeated motifs and decorative patterns of zigzags, triangles, semicircles and squares (46) which follow the form of the pot and accentuate structural elements (47). Calder speaks of “biomorphic cartouches” (48) that formed individual motifs and were created by first painting a coloured slip onto the unfired surface and then incising into the coloured ground with a sgraffito tool, or the process in reverse (49).

Raised elements on the surface ranged from corded designs of shields, arcs and rings to the amasumpa arranged in geometric patterns by adding the nodules on the surface of the vessel or by criss-crossing grooves on a flattened panel or forming them from the inside of the pot by using a matchstick to push the inner surface outwards (50-52). Indented designs included longitudinal lines of stitch-like incisions and zigzagged lines of hollows (53-54). V-shapes and zigzags are probably intended to represent cattle (55). The triangle with the apex pointing up denoted an unmarried woman and with the apex down referred to an unmarried man and linked together either in an hourglass shape or a diamond would represent the joining of a man and woman (56). Hosking makes mention of the often contrasting areas of light and dark, of texture and smoothness (57).

The figurative elements, says Hosking, are generally linear with simplified features and are stacked onto the spherical form (58). Traditional pot forms were transformed into novel vesseled figures, even imagined species of animals or based on nature or Zulu myth and legend (59). Knobbed handles were introduced. Some pots repeated the multiple neck pot forms (ingcazi) known in Zulu culture (60). Hosking describes the women’s works in the period after 1984 to have become more intricate and with greater preference for composite works featuring richer painted and textural decorations (61).

Though there was a strict gender division of labour in the workshop (the women creating handbuilt pots and the men throwing pots and also fetching the clay, mixing the slips and glazes, packing and firing the kiln) (62), there was a cross-influence of creativity as is evident in the women copying the men in adding handles and turning of foot-rings (63).

Calder listed nine women working as potters: Euriel Damman (nee Mbatha), Miriam Khumalo, Elizabeth Mbatha, Judith Mkhabela, Dina Molefe, Ivy Molefe, Lephinah Molefe, Nestah Molefe and Florence Sibisi (64). Justin Kerrod ads the name of Loviniah Molefe (65) but this could be a corrupted form of Lephinah Molefe.

The recruitment of the Molefe family handbuilding potters, states Calder, “advanced the Swedish Mission’s idea of indigenous authenticity” (66) but authenticity must not be confused with a strict cultural expression. Various authors have various ways to define an identity for the women’s work: for Hosking it is a “composite globalised identity” (67), Mags & Ward wrote of “interwoven … African tradition and Scandinavian Enlightenment” (68), for Calder it is a “hybridity … in the conflation of Scandinavian graphic design and indigenous sources” (69), Calder & Sahlström considered it “Convergences of indigenous African and introduced Nordic systems of knowledge and pedagogical discourses” (70), Clark & Wagner eulogised it as a “harmonious marriage of tribal culture and Western technology…” (71) and Motsamayi sees it as “examples of ‘invented traditions’ (72), that is new forms of African expression intended mainly for Western patrons.”

The external influence on the work of the women can not be reduced to “Western” and “imported” (73). The Swedish and Norwegian staff at the centre introduced and fostered a Scandinavian influence or as Calder puts it, the “Scandinavian spirit of late modernist ceramic design” and “element of Scandinavian purist functionalism” (74).

By the mid-20th century, wrote David Ryan, Scandinavian design had evolved to address the ethics and aesthetics of “humanism, tradition, moderation, hand-crafted perfectionism, modesty, quietude and purposefulness” (75). The form had to be unpretentious, determined by man and not machine, with tradition as a foundation for innovation, the blending of old and new materials and a link between the past and present (76). All of this is clearly evident in the practise and forms of the women’s works in which we can read a continuation of indigenous material culture practise but which was purposefully groomed for non-traditional reception in a globalised consumer/collector market. The “engineering” (77) of traditional African pottery for works that have appeal and value for users and collectors outside of the culture of origin, has been met with some angst which is valid in cases where the works are created on demand, become mere commercial replications, assume entirely untraditional forms and accrue artificial value. But to claim that European influence has “culturally defrocked” (78) African society is to deny that culture and material culture are dynamic and sufficiently plastic to absorb influence and, say Calder & Sahlström, be “augmented” as opposed to being ruptured (79).

If this text serves any purpose at all, it is to emphasise that long after we have reduced a Rorke’s Drift handbuilt pot to an uncontextualised museum cabinet curiosity or as a collectable objet, the pot will retain its integrity as an authored signifier and its signified.

References

1 Olsen, Bjørnar. 2010. In Defence of Things - Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects, location 2170
2 Hodder, Ian. 2012. Entangled – An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things, location 210
3 Durkheim, Emile. 1897. “The Suicide”, cited in Olsen, location 164
4 Hosking, Sarah. 2005. Tradition and innovation: Rorke’s Drift ceramics in the collection of the Durban Art Gallery, KwaZulu-Natal, pp 4-10
5 Clark, Garth & Wagner, Lynne. 1974. Potters of Southern Africa
6 Calder, Ian. (1) n.d. “The inception of Rorke’s Drift Pottery Workshop: tradition and innovation.” Artworx: Selected art and craft from kwaZuluNatal, South Africa
7 Calder, Ian. (2) n.d. “Contemporary Rorke’s Drift Ceramics.” Artworx: Selected art and craft from kwaZuluNatal, South Africa
8 Calder, Ian and Sahlström, Berit. 2004. Crafting Freedom: South Africa and Sweden at Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre
9 Clark & Wagner, p 144
10 Hosking, p 10
11 ibid
12 Calder (1)
13 ibid
14 Clark & Wagner, p 144
15 Hosking, p 96
16 Martin, Anthia & Wilson, Loraine. 2013. “The historical background of Rorke’s Drift”, p 31
17 Calder (1)
18 ibid
19 Van Robbroeck, Liza. 2013. In Revisions – Expanding the narrative of South African art.
20 Maggs, Tim & Ward, Val. 2011. “Judith Mkhabela, an inspirational potter from KwaZulu-Natal”, p 151
21 Calder (1)
22 Calder (2)
23 Roberts, Diana Lyn. 2013. “The Centrality of Ceramics in African Cultures”
24 Motsamayi, Mathodi Freddie. 2012. The Bernstein Collection of Rorke’s Drift ceramics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: a catalogue raisonné, pp 16-17
25 Calder (1)
26 Maggs & Ward, p 151
27 Motsamayi, p 12
28 Calder (1)
29 Motsamayi, p 72
30 Perrill, Elizabeth. 2008. “Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) & Zulu Ceramic Arts”
31 Mags & Ward, p 152
32 Perrill
33 Mags & Ward, p 151
34 Motsamayi, pp 9 and 41
35 Hosking, pp 83 and 90
36 Calder 1
37 Perrill
38 Motsamayi, pp 12 and 53
39 Mags & Ward, pp 155 – 156
40 South African History Online. n.d. “The Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre”
41 Motsamayi, p 41
42 Clark & Wagner, p 148
43 Motsamayi, p 12
44 ibid, p 53
45 Hosking, p 42
46 ibid, p 56
47 ibid, p 26
48 Calder (1)
49 Hosking, p 42
50 Motsamayi, p 72
51 Hosking, p 56
52 Hosking citing Calder, p 97
53 Motsamayi, p 53
54 Hosking, p 100
55 ibid, p 56
56 ibid, citing Megan Jones, p 57
57 ibid, p 26
58 ibid, p 30
59 Calder 02
60 Hosking, p 92
61 ibid, p 96
62 Hosking, p 26
63 ibid, p 27
64 Calder (1)
65 Kerrod, Justin. 2010. An Introduction to Southern African Ceramics – their Marks, Monograms & Signatures, p 170
66 Calder (1)
67 Hosking, p 57
68 Mags & Ward, p 152
69 Calder (1)
70 Calder & Sahlström
71 Clark & Wagner, p 144
72 Motsamayi, p 24
73 Perrill
74 Calder (1)
75 Ryan, David. n.d. Scandinavian Moderne: 1900 – 1960
76 ibid
77 Smith, Steven. 2010. “African pottery in South Africa: Life after the village”
78 Isiguzo, Andrew Ifeanyi. n.d. African Culture and Symbolism: A Rediscovery of the Seam of a Fragmented Identity , citing J.M. Nyasani
79 Calder & Sahlström
80 Kerrod, p 169

Bibliography

Calder, Ian. (1) n.d. “The inception of Rorke’s Drift Pottery Workshop: tradition and innovation.” Artworx: Selected art and craft from kwaZuluNatal, South Africa. (O) Accessed 3 December 2014. Available at http://www.artworx.org.za/calder.htm
Calder, Ian. (2) n.d. “Contemporary Rorke’s Drift Ceramics.” Artworx: Selected art and craft from kwaZuluNatal, South Africa. (O) Accessed 3 December 2014.. Available at http://www.artworx.org.za/rorke.htm
Calder, Ian and Sahlström, Berit. 2004. Crafting Freedom: South Africa and Sweden at Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre. Seminar for Development Studies. (O) Accessed 2 January 2014. Available at http://www.kus.uu.se/sds_papers/Sahlstrom%202004.pdf
Ceramics Southern Africa. n.d. The Corobrik Collection. (O) Available at http://www.ceramicssa.org/Corobrik.html. Accessed 30 December 2013.
Clark, Garth & Wagner, Lynne. 1974. Potters of Southern Africa. Cape Town. Struik
Hodder, Ian. 2012. Entangled – An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things. Chichester. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. eBook (Kindle DX version). Downloaded from www.amazon.com
Hosking, Sarah. 2005. Tradition and innovation: Rorke’s Drift ceramics in the collection of the Durban Art Gallery, KwaZulu-Natal. (O) Accessed 6 December 2013. Available at http://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za
Isiguzo, Andrew Ifeanyi. n.d. African Culture and Symbolism: A Rediscovery of the Seam of a Fragmented Identity. (O) Accessed 16 December 2013. Available at http://www.crvp.org/seminar/05-seminar/Andrew%20Ifeanyi%20Isiguzo.htm
Kerrod, Justin. 2010. An Introduction to Southern African Ceramics – their Marks, Monograms & Signatures. Cape Town. Justin Kerrod
Maggs, Tim & Ward, Val. 2011. “Judith Mkhabela, an inspirational potter from KwaZulu-Natal.” Southern African Humanities 23: 151–71, September 2011, KwaZulu-Natal Museum. (O) Accessed 31 December 2013. Available at http://www.africaninvertebrates.org/ojs/index.php/
SAH/article/viewFile/288/257
Martin, Anthia & Wilson, Loraine. 2013. “The historical background of Rorke’s Drift.” National Ceramics. Number 106, Summer 2013. Ceramics Southern Africa
Motsamayi, Mathodi Freddie. 2012. The Bernstein Collection of Rorke’s Drift ceramics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: a catalogue raisonné. (O) Accessed 6 December 2013. Available at http://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za/xmlui/bitstream/handle/
10413/9200/Motsamayi_Mathodi_Freddie_2012.pdf?sequence=1
Olsen, Bjørnar. 2010. In Defence of Things - Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects. Plymouth. AltaMira Press. eBook (Kindle DX version). Downloaded from www.amazon.com Location 2170
Perrill, Elizabeth. 2008. “Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) & Zulu Ceramic Arts.” Interpreting Ceramics, Issue 10, 2008. (O) Accessed 18 November 2013. Available at http://interpretingceramics.com/issue010/articles/01.htm
Roberts, Diana Lyn. 2013. “The Centrality of Ceramics in African Cultures”. Ceramics Monthly, February 2013. (O) Accessed 5 December 2013. Available at www.ceramicsmonthly.org
Ryan, David. n.d. Scandinavian Moderne: 1900 – 1960. (O) Accessed 29 December 2013. Available at http://www.artsmia.org/modernism/e_sm.html
Smith, Steven. 2010. “African pottery in South Africa: Life after the village.” The Journal of Modern Craft (no edition details). (O) Accessed 27 December 2013. Available at http://journalofmoderncraft.com/responses/african-pottery-in-south-africa-life-after-the-village-by-steven-smith
South African History Online. n.d. “The Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre.” (O) Accessed 22 December 2013. Available at http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/rorkes-drift-art-and-craft-centre
Van Robbroeck, Liza. 2013. In Revisions – Expanding the narrative of South African art. (O) Accessed 9 December 2013. Available at http://www.revisions.co.za/

Catalogue of featured works

Collection of Ronnie Watt, South Africa

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Collection number 828
A zoomorphic pot in the form of a fish with a gaping mouth. The anatomical features outlined with amasumpa and filled in with painted hatching and details.
Handbuilder: Euriel Mbatha
Signed: Euriel Mbatha
Workshop identification: Rorke’s Drift logo only
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H160 X L230 X W120

Collection number 1003
Triangular vase. The shoulders decorated with amasumpa. The flattened panels illustrated with geometric designs.
Handbuilder: Euriel Mbatha
Signed: Euriel Mbatha
Workshop identification: C-7-81 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H135 x W123 x W115

Collection number 1011
Globular pot. The belly decorated with a diamond-shaped and circle design outlined with amasumpa and additional X-shaped raised surface decoration.
Handbuilder: Dinah Molefe
Signed: D. Molife
Workshop identification: 1991-6 (indistinct) and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H185 x D170

Collection number 1048
Globular pot. The rim crowned and a line of amasumpa separating the shoulder from the belly. Diamond-shaped designs outlined in amasumpa and repeated with painted glazes within the cartouches.
Handbuilder: Dinah Molefe
Signed: D. Molefe
Workshop identification: 0.160.82 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H148 x D148

Collection number 1070
A vase with scalloped handles. The upper part of the belly decorated with rope-like lines (reminescent of braided hair).
Handbuilder: Mirriam Khumalo
Signed: Mirriam Khumalo
Workshop identification: C151 / 74 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H225 X W210 X W175

Collection number 1071
A vase with four bird-head and scalloped wing appendages. Geometric sgraffito designs.
Handbuilder: Elizabeth Mbatha
Signed: Elizabeth Mbatha
Workshop identification: H-79-87
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H190 X D215

Collection number 1072
Rectangular vase with sgraffito and raised-line designs.
Handbuilder: Lepainah Molefe
Signed: Lepainah Molife
Workshop identification: D.46.79 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H225 X L190 X W160

Collection number 1073
Ovoid pot, quartered with flanges. The shoulder with triangular painted designs and amasumpa and the belly with a painted design.
Handbuilder: Dinah Molefe
Signed: Dinah Molefe
Workshop identification: R.26.80 and Rorke’s Drift logo.
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H245 X D230

Collection number 1074
Globular pot with four knobbed handles. Naïve illustrations of a woman and a dwelling.
Handbuilder: Dinah Molefe
Signed: Dinah Molife
Workshop identification: V-52-78 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H190 X W240 X W195

Collection number 1089
Bird-vase with handles and three necks (ingcazi) and ribbed and amasumpa decorative lines.
Handbuilder: Elizabeth Mbatha
Signed: Elizabeth Mbatha
Workshop identification: S-55-82 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H235 X W180 X W160

Collection number 1090
Double pot with four handles. The upper part decorated with vertical lines of amasumpa and the lower part outlined with ribbed lines and oval forms.
Handbuilder: Lepainah Molefe
Signature: Lepainah Molife
Workshop identification: S.31.80 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H250 X D175

Collection number 1091
Figurine pot. Four birds perched on the shoulder and a fifth bird at the apex. The anatomical details revealed with sgraffito grooves and cross-hatching. Oval forms in sgraffito above the foot of the pot.
Handbuilder: Indistinct, assigned to Dinah Molefe
Signature: Indistinct
Workshop identification: A.244.2000, no Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H210 X W240 X W220

Collection number 1092
Vase with arched handles and three necks (ingcazi). The handles and shoulders decorated with amasumpa decorative lines and a ribbed line separating the belly decoration from the foot.
Handbuilder: Lepainah Molefe
Signature: Leph Molefe
Workshop identification: P.78.82 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H250 X W245 X W120

Collection number 1093
Globular pot with arched and knobbed handles decorated with amasumpa. The belly decorated with two rosettes of amasumpa. Naïve illustrations of a woman and a dwelling on the one side and painted geometric designs on the other side.
Handbuilder: Dinah Molefe
Signature: Dinah Molife
Workshop identification: O.40.79 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H220 X W270 X W210

Collection number 1095
Double bird vase. The birds stacked on top of one another with the wings edged in amasumpa and painted anatomical details.
Handbuilder: Elizabeth Mbatha
Signature: Elizabeth Mbetha
Workshop identification: Z.129.83 and Rorke’s Drift logo
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H245 X W190 X W160

Collection number 1098
An oval zoomorphic bowl with the front in the form of a bird’s head and the rear in the form of a snake’s head. Painted and sgraffito cross-hatching.
Handbuilder: Elizabeth Mbatha
Signature: Elizabeth Mbatha
Workshop identification: Rorke’s Drift logo only
Material and technique: Stoneware, reduction-fired
Measurements: H180 X L210 X W150

Note 1: A Rorke’s drift pot has workshop identification of the pot which include the potter’s name, kiln-firing sequence number as the first letter followed by the item number in that kiln and then the year as well as the studio logo. (80)

Note 2: There are variations in how the handbuilders signed their names.
Lepainah Molefe = Lepainah Molife = Leph Molefe.
Dinah Molefe = Dinah Molife.
Elizabeth Mbatha = Elizabeth Mbetha.