Transmuting earth, water, fire and air 

Formed by hand from earth and water and finished in the heat of fire fed by air, this pot from Inhambane district in Mozambique is created using the four classical elements.

These enormous pots are built without the use of a wheel using a hand-coiling technique. Once ready for firing, the pots are carefully piled up in a shallow fire pit on the ground and then covered over with dry grasses and leaves. The vegetation is set alight and the pots are fired in a controlled fire naturally ventilated by the air. A surprising number of pots emerge intact.

Traditionally, these large pots were half-buried in sand near the doors of homesteads where, each covered with a lid, they were used to store water. As far as I know they are still used for this purpose, but many pots are now made to be sold to tourists, increasing a demand for smaller, more portable pots.

A large pot, traditionally used to store water, from near Inhambane, Mozambique

Photographed with a matchbox nearby to try to show the size of the pot (58 cm tall), and a close-up revealing its birth through fire

We bought this pot near Inhambane on a visit to Mozambique in 2004, and transported it carefully home, with it wearing a seatbelt on the backseat of our car. Perhaps because it is does not contain water, it is becoming brittle as it ages and is showing signs of cracking. We value it while we still have it, and so do the cats who love to hide in it.

This post is in response to the weekly photo challenge with the theme ‘Elemental’, inviting us to explore the classical elements of earth, air, water, and fire. For images from other bloggers on this theme see here

Posted by Carol