The Making of: Akiliba Pots
The rural village of Akiliba, in Northern Uganda, is well off the beaten path. And it is home to a determined group of craftswomen who are using pottery as a way to sustain their whole community. These are the Potters of Akiliba.
These beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations are hand-built using locally sourced clay. And the women have a strong connection to the earth. You barely see the division between humans and nature. Gratitude is deeply ingrained, and they care for and benefit from the natural world around them.
Once these beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations are formed, they are stacked into a brush-covered mound for firing. Yes, that’s right. No kilns here. Another gift from nature, a brush pile, provides the heat required to fire the clay bowls and pots.
the final piece
The end result is decorative, textured earthenware with a rustic burnt finish, one-of-a-kind creations that cannot be replicated. The curved lines and rounded shapes of these bowls/pots are juxtaposed against their almost ancient aesthetic. You can’t stop looking at them.
Independence is critical for these artisans, as is preserving their ancient craft. Naima, one of the village elders, passionately summarizes this sentiment – “We want to get out of poverty and be able to feed ourselves and put our children through school.” In the past, the potters’ remote location and lack of transportation left these talented artisans struggling to reach larger markets in the area. Now, through our partnership with the village, we have been able to help them travel to these markets, enabling the community to grow a sustainable local source of income.
This is the beautiful Aisha. She’s the elder in the village and a source of power and inspiration for all the others. Aisha has been making pottery since she was a little girl, having learned from her own grandmother. Now she passes on her knowledge to the younger generation attempting to keep the traditional craft and culture alive.
The Potters of Akiliba thank not only the earth for providing raw materials but also the animals, the water, and the air they breathe. It’s such a beautiful and holistic approach to living. With more than 600 pots sold and a feature in The New York Times, this village stands strong - providing for themselves through their ancient craft.
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My pottery is inspired by the generations that came before me who have passed down this sacred craft. In my community you are born, raised and live each day by the clay—the Holy Mother. Every part of my being is woven through the story of this magical mud.
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