Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Soddo, Ethiopia--Pottery Making

7.31.09 Friday

Alden got up and threw up this morning. He has a fever. I think he had not been using soap as well as he should. I think it was that, or possibly the cafeteria food. I decided we would go on our planned adventure without him, since Almas is here at home and Ruth is so close by, and he really just needed to sleep and drink.

So, we went, all but Alden, with Ermias, on an extremely long walk. He guessed we walked 12 kilometers total today. I had some snacks, and accidentally left them sitting at home. This was a problem because Zion only ate the jelly off her toast for breakfast, and was soon in the sugar dumps, crying that she wanted to go home and that she missed her Daddy. I showed her some video of him on my camera, and that helped. And, Sarah had some crackers she had planned to give away, so they were able to eat a few. When Sarah put her bag down, later, Nebiyu and Zion helped themselves to the rest of them.

After we got through the crowded roads and onto the narrower country paths, the scenery was stunning. We passed people walking to town and lots of livestock, and crossed a nice bridge with a donkey standing guard. We could see people washing their clothes in the brown water. We also saw many children going to fetch water in the ubiquitous yellow containers. Nebiyu says he can carry two of the big ones up a hill by himself. I believe it, as he is as muscular as a high school athlete at age seven.

We arrived at a modest mud home, and saw many pieces of pottery out back. Friday is firing day. The one man in the compound was chopping wood. They put the pottery in a circle, stacking the taller stuff over the flat items with hay in between and on top. Wood is placed in a circle around the items and the whole thing burns for two to three hours. They wanted to know if we wanted to stay until five pm for the burn, but we said we’d really like to see the entire process if that was okay, instead, since five is too late to walk home safely.

Ermias eventually convinced the matriarch to show us the entire clay forming process – minus the long trek to find clay and water.

Here is the entry from Sarah’s journal about it:

There were three women using rocks against the sides of pots. I made long, thin marks on the pots. Then, the elderly lady let me try it. Then I got to see her get pieces of dry clay and smash them with a small club. Then she sifted the small pieces and then wet the pieces with water and started working the soft clay. Then she made the clay into a cone. Then she got a large leaf and put the cone onto it. She put the pointy part on the leaf and pressed it so that it was flat. That made the base. From there, she made the top rim taller by using her hands and moving them up and down. She spun herself around the pot while she did this. Then, she used a cloth and wrapped it around the rim of the pot to make it smooth. This all took about an hour, because my brother and sister and I did all these steps, too. At the end of doing this, I made the top rim wavy. It was the best part. Then we left.

I paid the people for spending time teaching us, and told a woman with a sick baby to bring it to the hospital and I would pay for him to be seen. I wrote her a note so the guard would let her in. On the way out, the kids found some baby sheep and got to pet them. They were twins, just beyond cute. You can tell the sheep because their tails are down and the goats because their tails are up. Other than that, they look very much the same, and it gives insight into the scripture, “separate the sheep from the goats.”