Online ISSN: 2221-7886

Volume 2, Number 1 (2011)
Women Potters? A Preliminary Examination of Documentary and Material Culture Evidence from Barbados
Kevin Farmer
The technology of the sugar industry in Barbados, from the mid-17th to mid-19th centuries, involved a type of ceramic, known as a sugar pot, which was pivotal in the processing of sugar cane to sugar. Documentary evidence suggests that local pottery production of sugar wares which began in the mid seventeenth century had by the late seventeenth century replaced wooden moulds on the plantation (Handler 1963a, 1978). Barbadian ceramic production, with its use of wheel technology and enslaved male potters, is atypical in a region dominated by hand built ceramics manufactured by enslaved women. This paper introduces new documentary evidence that indicates for the first time both occupational roles, as well as female participation, in the pottery industry during the period of slavery. The new evidence has serious implications for the interpretation of the Barbadian pottery industry.