It might be telling that the Zulu pot people are most familiar with is the ukhamba, the pot that’s associated with beer drinking ceremonies – ceremonies that still form part of culturals practices for Zulu -speaking people. Less familiar is the uphiso, a vessel that’s used for carrying water, and yes, you guessed it, beer! The primary difference between the two types of pots is that the uphiso has a long cylindrical neck, which is intended to stop liquid from spilling while the pot’s being carried. Otherwise, the two are quite similar, with a polished black surface that’s often beautifully decorated – making these pots not only functional everyday items in a traditional home, but also works of art that today have value beyond their traditional purpose.
As part of Women’s Month the African Art Centre in Durban is playing host to the ceramic exhibition, A Woman’s Touch, which features some wonderful examples of uphiso pots. The exhibition is still on display, so if you find yourself on Florida Road before the 16th September, make sure to pop in and have a look!