Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

The Power of Swahili Porcelain, Beads and Pottery

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Abstract

This ethno-archeological case study presents an emic view of the meaning of Swahili artifacts. Porcelain, beads and pottery have been deposited by generation of Swahili people, but only recently has symbolic and structuring social meaning of these items become of interest to archeologists working on the East African coastal sites. The emic perspective also revealed an unconscious belief that pottery decoration has a “protective” function within the Swahili culture.

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