Half of a Yellow Sun

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Roped Pots Symbol Icon
As a youth in England, Richard is first intrigued by Nigeria when he sees an image of its roped pots. The roped pots were part of ancient Igbo-Ukwu art and artifacts unearthed in Nigeria in 1959-60. They show complex metalworking that existed as early as the 9th century among the Igbo-Ukwu (ancestors of the present-day Igbo). Archeologists now agree that this intricate metalworking developed without foreign influence or aid and was solely invented in the isolated community of the Igbo-Ukwu. In the novel the roped pots represent Richard’s fascination with Nigeria and also his genuine love of its people and culture, unlike the racism of his other white counterparts. When Richard tries to explain his love of Igbo-Ukwu art to his fellow English expatriates, they assume that he just wants to exploit it for money.

Roped Pots Quotes in Half of a Yellow Sun

The Half of a Yellow Sun quotes below all refer to the symbol of Roped Pots. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Half of a Yellow Sun published in 2006.
Part 4, Chapter 33 Quotes

Richard showed them Kainene’s picture. Sometimes, in his rush, he pulled out the picture of the roped pot instead. Nobody had seen her… On the drive back, Richard began to cry.

Related Characters: Richard Churchill (speaker), Kainene Ozobia
Related Symbols: Roped Pots
Page Number: 510
Explanation and Analysis:

After Kainene has been missing for two days, Olanna and Richard drive around in search of her. In this quote, Richard asks passersby if they have seen her, using a picture he keeps in his wallet to jog their memories. Occasionally, he accidentally pulls out the photo he keeps of the roped pot that inspired his move to Nigeria. No one has any information for Olanna or Richard, and when they drive home, Richard cries in despair.

While there have been many false alarms for the loss of the four narrative characters--Olanna and Odenigbo's impending break-up, Olanna's visit to Kano during a massacre, Ugwu's near-death experience--it is in fact Kainene whose disappearance remains a mystery in the final pages of the novel. She is the one main character whose voice we never hear as a narrator: like Richard's roped pots, she is objectified, othered, and analyzed by each of the other characters, in particular Olanna and Richard. The fact that Richard keeps the picture of the roped pots alongside his photo of Kainene symbolizes the fact that though he indeed loves Kainene and is lost in her absence, he has never quite shed his fascination for Nigeria due to his "othering" of its culture, a remnant of his native Englishness and white skin. 

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Roped Pots Symbol Timeline in Half of a Yellow Sun

The timeline below shows where the symbol Roped Pots appears in Half of a Yellow Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
...tell racist jokes about them. Richard has a real interest in ancient Igbo-Ukwu art, particularly roped pots , but the other English people all think he just wants to exploit the art... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Richard was deeply stirred by seeing an Igbo-Ukwu roped pot in a magazine once, which inspired him to want to come to Africa, but he... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
...week later Richard leaves for Nsukka, and he stops at Igbo-Ukwu, the place where the roped pots were excavated. A young man named Emeka Anozie leads him to the patriarch, Pa Anozie,... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
During the excavation the men found many things, including the roped pots and a burial chamber. Richard marvels at the complexity of the Igbo-Ukwu art and civilization... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
...embarrassed that he has hardly been writing, but he says he wants to put the roped pots and Igbo-Ukwu art in his book somehow. He describes how marvelous this ancient art was,... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...what’s bothering him. He tells her about Okeoma, and about his first love for the roped pots he saw in a magazine long ago. Kainene tells him that it is “possible to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...awkwardly, and Richard says he has changed his book title to “In the Time of Roped Pots .” (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 27
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
...leave with the women and children. Richard asks about his manuscript “In the Time of Roped Pots ,” and Harrison says he buried it in a box in the garden. (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...heard about Kainene, and Richard shows him a picture of her and then of the roped pot , saying “I fell in love with Igbo-Ukwu art and then fell in love with... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 33
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...try and jog their memory, but sometimes he accidentally takes out the picture of the roped pot instead. On the drive home Richard starts to cry. Olanna yells at him to stop,... (full context)