This project aims to document knowledge and practices related to pottery production by the Bayot-Jola from Guinea-Bissau. According to archaeological studies, there is a regional ceramist tradition going back to at least 2000 years, deeply embedded in every aspect of Jola way of life, whose stages of production incorporate many elements of traditional knowledge. From the practical and symbolic uses of ceramic objects themselves to the material aspects of human and non-human relations such as the search for raw components, the technical choices involved in each step of production, the ceremonial usages of ceramic and even the management and disposal of each artefact. This knowledge is essentially connected to the feminine universe as it is elder women who pass it down to the younger generations, a process associated with the collective construction of identity.

However, local social dynamics of pottery production have been profoundly influenced by external agents. Presently, pottery production is confined to a single Bayot village and happens on an inconsistent basis, only when commissioned. The task is performed solely by elderly women who have not passed down the knowledge to younger females. Once ubiquitous, ceramics went from being found in every Jola village to being replaced by plastic recipients. Its ceremonial usage has also been diminished as more and more villagers convert to Evangelical Christianity and Islam. We aim to assemble a record – audiovisual materials, fieldnotes, maps, reference collections and exhibitions – that will allow current knowledge to be registered for the community and future researchers.

Primary Applicant:
Bruno Pastre Máximo

Marília Oliveira Calazans
Leonardo Cardoso
Angelo Marcelo Vasco

Research Assistants:
Maurício Paiva
Eusébio Coli

Location of Research:
Elia, Coladje, Djobel and Causso, Jola land, northern Guinea-Bissau

Host Institution:
Associação Bem-Te-Vi Diversidade

Top Banner Image: Seafront of the Djobel village (Diola-Bayot) with shell mound and houses (Photo: Bruno Pastre Máximo)