A documentary film on the Magwaza potters' production of Zulu beer ceramics.
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This dissertation consists of two components. Firstly, a documentation of the production of Zulu beer ceramics by the Magwaza potters of Mpabelane, using the medium of documentary film; secondly, a written consideration of issues of representation, in relation to the documentary film, regarding the ceramists and the ceramics. In October 1994 I stayed with the Magwaza family for 5 days. During this time 12 of the Magwaza women produced vessels. They were Khulumeleni Magwaza, Shongaziphi Magwaza, Thandiwe Magwaza, Bonisiwe Magwaza, Esther (also called Buyaphi) Magwaza, Sholoni Magwaza, Buzephi Magwaza, Sindisiwe Magwaza, Mkoso Magwaza, Thuleleni Magwaza, Konzeni Magwaza, Qikiza Magwaza and Mancani Magwaza. The vessels were produced over four days. The potters each individually produced a vessel using the coiling method. On the first day the vessels were formed using the coiling method. Decoration was done on the second day. The vessels were decorated with either scraffito or applied amasumpa (little nodes or warts), or a combination of both methods. On the third day fat (vegetable oil or soap) was applied to the vessels and they were burnished with river stones. At sunrise of the forth day the vessels were fired. Dried aloe was packed below and around the vessels. A small pile of dried grass was packed on top of the aloe kiln. This was lit and the flames spread from the top down, burning for 25 minutes. After this the pots were blackened by various means. This process was filmed and edited. A year after the filming an interview was conducted with Khulumeleni, Shongaziphi and Thandiwe Magwaza to clarify some of the production methods that they used. The paper considers issues of representation prior to filming and editing the documentary, as well as post-production considerations of these same issues. The pre-production consideration section is based on various extracts from texts on representation, particularly of a cultural other. The postproduction analysis reconsiders these notions of representation in the light of what occurred during filming and editing.