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Mexico Aztec pottery


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Pottery making has been called ‘the greatest New World craft’ (George Vaillant) - perhaps no other continent has such a complex range of form and design

Mexico Aztec pottery

  1. 1. We know a lot about ancient Aztec pottery because of a curious tradition that was followed - at the end of every 52 year cycle, all household goods were destroyed.  So archaeologists are able to understand changes in pottery with much greater accuracy.
  2. 2. Every Aztec/Mexica household, however poor, would have owned some pottery: essential were a large jar for storing water and pots for cooking beans and soaking maize kernels in overnight. Model of the interior of a simple Aztec house, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
  3. 3. Rough and plain, basic kitchenware was made by non-specialists, who also hand made (for wealthier families) plates, serving bowls, goblets, cocoa jugs, sauce dishes and more. The Mexica had access to an abundance of finely-textured clay, orange- coloured after firing, and they wasted none of it.
  4. 4. There was a unity of culture in central Mexico, and there were several production facilities that created the pottery in various regions
  5. 5. Cholula became famous for its elaborate pottery, and it was said that Moctezuma II demanded to eat only off of Cholula dinnerware!  Bernal Díaz del Castillo tells us that it was all red or black.
  6. 6. Pottery making has been called ‘the greatest New World craft’ (George Vaillant) - perhaps no other continent has such a complex range of form and design
  7. 7. ‘Sahumador’ or incense burner. The symbol of the Smoking Mirror (Tezcatlipoca) is painted on the top of the handle. The handle itself is in the form of another symbol of Tezcatlipoca, the turkey claw. British Museum
  8. 8. British Museum, London
  9. 9. Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. British Museum, London The pottery’s wheel was unknown and the craftsmen were ignorant of glazes. All pottery was hand-made, but although the coarse domestic wares could have been produced by non-specialists (perhaps, in country districts, by the farmers during the slack season of the year) the finest vessels, with their varied shapes, thin walls, and tasteful decoration, could only have been made by experts who had undergone a proper apprenticeship’ Professor Warwick Bray)
  10. 10. Aztec Copal Burner
  11. 11. The Aztecs, lacking the wheel, ‘built up their vessels with strips of clay, relying on their keen eye and sensitive fingers to achieve the desired shape’ (Vaillant). By the end of the 15th century the coarse, heavy, crude productions had given way to thinner, more delicate objects bearing more sophisticated designs, as fine as any ever made in the Americas.
  12. 12. This collection of ancient style pottery comes from the Central West part of Mexico  and is representative of how pottery was made in the ancient times.  It is all beautifully hand crafted and hand painted.
  13. 13. Sound: RAIZ VIVA - Los Folkloristas México Background: Caracol, mexican rug Text & Pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu 2012