As with many Zulu artifacts, the humble Zulu beer pot has been raised to a new status of interior décor,
The use of the Zulu beer pot is an integral part of Zulu culture since ritual beer drinking takes place in every aspect of the customary Zulu life. In fact, King Ceshwayo claimed that beer was ‘the food of the Zulu’s’. Beer is used to introduce a new child to the family’s ancestors, at puberty ceremonies, at all marriage ceremonies as well as burial ceremonies. The beer is also used as a medium to evoke the ancestors – it is served in a pot and left overnight in the back of the hut for the ancestor.
The beer is brewed and served in low-fired clay vessels. Three sizes are common: the large imbiza is used for brewing, the ukhamba (medium size) and the umancishana(small size) is used for serving.
Pots are also used for cooking meat, storing water and grain and for drinking sour milk.
Most Zulu pots are blackened after firing which is largely done for ritualistic purposes as the ancestors hide in dark and shady places. Over time, through their daily use, pots develop a warm, brown, glossy patina characteristic. The patterns and decoration on the pots vary according to family and region. These days’ contemporary ceramics have been inspired by traditional Zulu pottery. White pots with ethnic designs are a favorite décor item.
(extracts from Bona Africa)