The Wanigela Potters: Patterns of Production and Change

By Elizabeth Bonshek, Leviticus Iriso, and Julie Adams | 10 November 2020

The women of Wanigela, Collingwood Bay, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea are known in the region for making distinctive cooking pots which are exchanged, one for one, for netbagsbarkcloth and mats in long standing regional networks. Using digital video and photography this project will record the women’s unique pot making technique and capture the application of the designs which make this tradition so distinctiveThe Wanigela Potters: Patterns of Production and Change explores whether pottery making has been affected by social change in Wanigela. It will investigate the range of pot forms made, document innovations, and follow local transactions involving pots including those feeding into the regional exchange networks. It will explore how pottery making knowledge is transmitted between generations of women. The project will develop a contemporary understanding of this material knowledge practice which in 2001–3 was maintained and preserved by the senior women of Wanigela.

Dr Elizabeth Bonshek, Visiting Researcher, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, The British Museum 

IrisoOgayo Integrated Conservation and Development Association
Dr Julie Adams, Curator of Oceania, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, The British Museum 

Location of Research:
Wanigela, in Collingwood Bay, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea


Leviticus Iriso (Photo Elizabeth Bonshek, 2007)