Pottery skills of the women of Sejnane


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Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Association de sauvegarde de l'environnement à Sejnane, 2017

The pottery skills of the women of Sejnane relate to the practice of using a specific technique to produce terracotta artefacts for the home, including cooking utensils, dolls and animal figurines inspired by the environment. All stages of the pottery-making process are performed by women, who also sell the pots in the village and by the side of neighbouring roads; women therefore occupy a prominent place in the community. The clay is usually extracted from wadi beds, and is then cut into blocks, crushed, purified and soaked in water, before being kneaded and shaped. Once fired, the pots are then decorated with two-tone geometrical patterns reminiscent of traditional tattoos and Berber weaving. Men are involved in the sales process, making this a family-based craft that promotes family cohesion. Faced with socioeconomic changes, the women of Sejnane have adapted their craft to modern-day needs and fluctuations in demand, showing their capacity for innovation. The knowledge and skills relating to the craft of handmade pottery in Sejnane are passed down through traditional and informal education, in communities where daughters are encouraged to learn this art of firing alongside going to school. The National Office for Crafts also delivers training courses for young women in the community who want to dedicate themselves to this activity.