Zulu Beer Pot – South Africa

Zulu beer pots, or ukhamba, are shaped with the coil method, then smoothed, incised, indented or embossed with geometric patterns, and finally fired, which hardens the clay and darkens its surface. The black, glossy finish of this ukhamba, strikingly beautiful in its own right, is contrasted further by the addition of a disc of raised amasumpa motifs in the center of the pot’s flank. Embellishment of pots in this way was decorative, but also a matter of utility, aiding the holder in safely lifting the vessel.

The Zulu traditionally brewed beer from sorghum and it was made exclusively by women. After being cooked and fermented in a large clay vessel, the final product was filtered through a grass sieve and served in an ukhamba. The enjoyment of beer was a group affair and those partaking would drink either directly from the pot or with a communal gourd.

Mid-20th century
Ceramic
10” h  10” w
Provenance: Bill Simmons, New York
#525
Request price
Roll over image to magnify
Error: Check if all the fields are filled in correctly
* Required fields