RA65 Col. 30 mins.
Director: Boris Cook
This film shows the preparation and making of a wide variety of beautiful clay pots by the women of Aibom, a village near Chambri Lake, Sepik District, New Guinea. Aibom is an Iatmul?speaking village and is not far from the Iatmul communities discussed by Gregory Bateson in Naven (Stanford University Press, 1956) and the Chambri (Tchambuli) villages discussed by Margaret Mead in Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (Routledge, London, 1935).
The process of pot?making is shown in some detail, women carefully rolling clay into sausage?shape pieces which are skilfully placed one above another until a finished shape emerges. Although men are also shown making a pot for ritual purposes, making pots is predominantly women's work. The village relies on the trade from these clay pots for much of its subsistence and they are found all over the Sepik area. The commentary uses legend in order to explain the significance and mythical history of the clay pots. There is also a short sequence on the preparation of sago and its exchange for pots.
Since there are so few ethnographic films that take 'women' as subject matter, it is unfortunate that Women of Aibom has the feeling of travelogue rather than anthropological account. However, it must be acknowledged that it was made by the Department of Information and Extension Services, Papua New Guinea, with a limited education usage in mind. The film is primarily about 'clay pots of Aibom', and no indications are given of the effects on women's social status of their obvious economic importance as pot?makers. Despite its ethnographic limitations, visually the film contains some beautiful sequences.
M. Schuster, 1967. Vorläufiger Berichttiberdie Sepik?Expedition 1965?1967 des Museums für Völkerkunde zu Basel. Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel, Vol.78, pp 268-82.
M. & G. Schuster, 1961, onwards. A series of short ethnographic films made in Aibom village about pottery?making and other techniques. (Encylopaedia Cinematographica (G. Wolf, ed.), Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film, Göttingen, 1974.)