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Chorotega Pottery - Tinajitas Pottery

Chorotega Pottery - Tinajitas Pottery

by Anne Watcher on Saturday March 15th, 2008 at 10:50am

The Chorotega Indians, an indigenous tribe of Costa Rica, have been making pottery for centuries. The villages of Guaitel (way-teal) and nearby Ste. Vincente are the last two settlements remaining and they are trying hard to keep this craft alive.

They get the sands for the clay from three different mountains about 4 km. away from the openings of iguana nests. The clay comes in three colours: tan, red ochre and black - with black being the hardest to get. No power wheels or tools are used as they are crafted just the way they were generations before.

We had met a lady in a local restaurant in Santa Cruz and she gave us her cousin's name and where her shop was in Guaitel. So the next day we took a trip through the hills and farms of the Guanacaste region to the village. It is a small settlement of about 200 people, with most working in the pottery business from their modest homes.

Below are the steps shown to us by Elma and her daughter, Jennifer.

Starting with a small amount of clay the base is formed

Starting with a small amount of clay the base is formed.

Steading her hand with the pole, she turns the wheel with her other hand

Using a corn cob she shapes the piece

Using a corn cob she shapes the piece

Corn Cob - one of the simple tools used

Corn Cob - one of the simple tools used

Rings of clay are added to the top to make the original piece bigger

Rings of clay are added to the top to make the original piece bigger.

Using water, a piece of metal and her hands - Jennifer does a basic blending of the two pieces

Adding clay to the top

Adding clay to the top

The vase begins to takes shape

The vase begins to takes shape

the unfired piece is then washed with the clays of different colours

When the desired shape and size is reached, the unfired piece is then washed with the clays of different colours

The three different colours of sand are mixed in mortars with pestles to make clay

The three different colours of sand are mixed in mortars with pestles to make clay

Designs are etched on and the piece is then glazed and baked in their ovens

After the coloured clays have been added, designs are etched on - again with simple tools and by hand.

The piece is then glazed and baked in their ovens

Pottery for sale

Pottery for salePrices:

Small items average $10-$20

Medium size items average $20-$50

Large items go up from there

Some artisans including Elma and her family will ship worldwide.

For more information on Guaitil and the Pottery:

http://www.tourism.co.cr/costa-rica-ecotourism-and-nature/costa-rica-highlights/guaitil.html

http://www.govisitcostarica.com/region/city.asp?cID=44


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