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Technology and Style: Potters and Pottery Among Bafia of Cameroon

Olivier P. Gosselain
Man
New Series, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep., 1992), pp. 559-586
DOI: 10.2307/2803929
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2803929
Page Count: 28
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Technology and Style: Potters and Pottery Among Bafia of Cameroon
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Abstract

In archaeology, the stylistic approach to artefacts is most often restricted to parameters which are considered to be completely free from any non-cultural constraint. This view also prevails in pottery studies where the stylistic parameters traditionally used are limited to those of decoration and morphology. Another common conception is that technological processes in pottery are so strongly governed by environmental and functional constraints that little scope remains for stylistic expression. In this article, I refute this view, by detailing and analysing successive stages of pottery production among Bafia potters of Cameroon, and by comparing their technological process with other technological processes in both neighbouring and more distant groups. The results show that pottery technology can be the locus of stylistic expression. Moreover, some stages of the manufacturing process appear to be more salient than others as indices of cultural variation, because they are both insensitive to innovation and grounded in specific patterns of learning.

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