Clay Pots of Wanigela

Ethel is the potter adding a decoration here

Ethel is the potter adding a decoration here

Clay pot lin-up at Ganjiga

First you take your fire wood and arrange it in a star-like manner so that it will be a solid resting place for your pot. When it’s there in place, you line it with some banana leaves and then start filling it up with vegetables. The ones that need the most time to get properly cooked, usually the taro, you place on the bottom. Then you add the water, and maybe some coconut milk. On top comes fish or meat, before you place taro or banana leaves as a cover on top. Now you only have to make sure that the fire keeps going.

Today most of the cooking in the Tufi villages, as well as everywhere else in Papua New Guinea, is done in aluminum pots, but for certain occasions – for a feast, or a special visit – you bring out the clay pots. All around the country there have been century- or millennia-old trading systems, where tribes with access to the best clay locations have distributed their pots in exchange for other goods, sometimes over impressive distances. Around Tufi the treasured clay is found at Wanigela, in a small area a couple of miles from the Collingwood Bay shore line, and

Daisily at Tumari puts on the 'lid'

Daisily at Tumari puts on the ‘lid’

here both the pot making and the trading is still very much alive.

While the Wanigela people bring their clay pots, the villagers from the Tufi fjords bring mats and dogs; the Maisin to the

south trade their tapa (bark) cloth, and the Cape Vogel tribes their shell work. For a big feast or ceremony, as the mourning meal at Ganjiga shown above, there will be a great number of clay pots lined up and looked after by the women, while the young men help out with shredding coconut and the elders sit and discuss clan matters.

Fish on top

My full series of pot making can be seen in the ‘Wanigela Clay Pot set’ set on Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157626541992236/

The ‘bible’ on this topic, “The Traditional Pottery of Papua New Guinea” is written by Patricia May and Margaret Tuckson.

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All smiles from ESfO


George Nuku’s on-the-spot art work is a great illustration of the quality of the ESfO conference, Power of the Pacific, that was finished yesterday here in Bergen. As a newcomer  , surrounded by great anthropologists and others, I was impressed from day one till the closing lectures and speaches.


Invited guest speakers Anne Salmond, Marilyn Strathern, Vilsoni Hereniko, Tarcisius Kabutaulaka and Nicholas Thomas all shed light on the congregation, and the many sessions were of the greatest interest and inspiration for everyone, I’m sure, as they were for me (special thanks to my session chairs Anna Paini and Grant McCall).

Marilyn Strathern summarised the event

Incredible too to have a majority of the world’s scholars that have worked in Tufi/Collingwood Bay area gathered in one place, and actually in my home town! It was truly special for me to meet with John Barker, Anna-Karina Hermkens and Libi Gnecchi Ruscone (John and Libi below).


Everlasting respect to hosts Knut, Edvard, Eilin, Annelin + others!!


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Power of the Pacific

Power of the Pacific

A great start today for the ESfO conference Power in the Pacific here in Bergen Norway.

First an impressive panel of scholars highlighted one of the conference’s themes – Climate Change Challenges, emphasising the humen aspect of the climate change complex.

This was followed by a capturing lecture by Dame Anne Salmond from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, on ownership of rivers and lakes, focusing on Maori traditions, recent changes in legislation and privatisation.

Workshops tomorrow.


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Eileen at Garewa

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