It comes from the Arabic alpha-hhar , which means ceramic, from ancient times to today pottery has become not only an art, but also a custom and a culture.


What is pottery?

Pottery is called the art of creating using materials such as baked clay , throughout history vessels, plates, pots, glasses, pots, among other objects that are made using this technique have stood out with this discipline. However, those objects made with clay to be fired once are also called pottery.




«Pottery is the popular ceramic, the most common, the one made in the villages for popular use. Then came ceramics, everything that is decorated, with a sumptuous, artistic character. ” Emili French Sempere.


The first creations that are based on pottery date back to the Paleolithic period , since jars and containers were found, although their size was small, in the same way it is considered relevant, the oldest known piece is a vessel from the Jōmon period, Japan (10,000 BC / 8,000 BC) This piece is currently on display in the Tokyo National Museum.

In Latin America , specifically in Peru, very old objects have been found, such as those from Kotosh-Huayrajirca (1850 before Christ), these containers, generally painted red and yellow, not only fulfilled the function of containers, but also They were used as decoration of the environment, and in some cases they were implemented in religious rituals.

The first specialized craftsmen appeared in Mesopotamia, they invented the tools to better work the clay, such as the potter’s wheel and the oven to bake it; Strabo and Pliny gave the idea of innovating the wheel of the potter.

Pottery characteristics

The main characteristics of the pottery are:

  • Symbology.
  • Religious value.
  • Utilitarian and domestic objects.
  • Ceremonial.
  • Decorative


The different types of pottery that exist are the following:

  • Hollow work: Those creations that have a jar shape, high body with an open top and considerable depth, these can be covered to preserve food or liquids, they tend to have handles to facilitate grip and transfer.
  • Open work: These pieces have the upper opening wider than the base of the whole creation, that is, plates, dishes and lids, in addition to this, this category includes works that have short walls of 3 to 5 centimeters, these they are identified as casseroles; some have a flat base and a concave bottom, such as mortars or pots.
  • Closed work: They are characterized by having the bodies clearly closed, concluding the piece with a bolt or closure, a slight example of these are the piggy banks and canteens.
  • Flat mold work: Pieces essentially dedicated to construction, the material is emptied into a mold, waiting for it to dry and when it is dry it is removed from the mold, thus obtaining objects such as bricks, tiles and tiles.


The potter’s wheel, commonly divided between a turret and a fast wheel, has evolved from time to time, starting as a short shaft wheel , which was very unstable and its use was almost zero; then there was the appearance of the long axis Wheel, almost a meter in diameter and the axis of 25 cm.

Over time the reel and crossover wheels, the suspended disc or reel lathe, the cross disc or crossover wheel became known, after this the modern lathes and electric winches appeared, which are being used in the present.

Some auxiliary tools are:

  • Wire.
  • Twine.
  • Sedative.
  • Thread.
  • Sponge.
  • Fabric handle.
  • Emptier.


Numerous materials are used in pottery, among them we highlight:

  • Clay.
  • Mud.
  • Water.
  • Silica.
  • Lead.
  • Sometimes alabaster powder is used.


  • Modeling by hand: This technique is the most primitive, the pieces are built thanks to the stretching of the dough into rolls, plates or balls of clay, joined by slip a liquid clay that serves as glue; After the piece is finished, it is smoothed with a moistened hand so as not to spoil the final result. This technique is not indicated to create series of identical fragments, however, thanks to this the artist expands his imagination.
  • Turret modeling: Called slow lathe, which is an artifact made up of a pivot and a wheel that, driven by the hand, produces a rotational movement, this facilitates manual work since it acts as a rotating base.
  • Lathe modeling: Called fast lathe, the parts made in this tool are commonly finished manually, however, it is the most used if you want the final product to be identical and thus distribute it in series.
  • Cast modeling: Here a mold is used to achieve the figure, it is used mostly in the industrial field, the liquid clay is poured into a plaster mold, until it hardens a little and dries to medium, then it is removed from the mold, some imperfections are corrected and it is waited for it to dry completely.

Elaboration process

Mainly the clay is kneaded, hoping in this way that the humidity and other particles are distributed homogeneously, eliminating the probability that air bubbles remain in the material, if any air capsule remains at the time of baking it can cause an explosion . After this, it is molded manually or through various tools explained above, water is used to maintain the plasticity of the clay during molding and thus not cause any fracture or cracking.

Subsequently, the piece is taken to the open air, until it dries and hardens enough, however, at this stage of the creation process the pieces are very delicate and brittle, therefore they must be handled with great subtlety; When the piece is completely dry, its color is lighter and becomes hard, artisans tend to use a fine sandpaper or a damp sponge to polish it.

This is how it is taken to the oven, where it is expected that it ends up losing moisture and acquires greater resistance and sound, with this last cooking stage the piece is considered finished and the final product can be admired.

Pottery objects

  • Anafre.
  • Alfardón.
  • Epinetrum.
  • Brick.
  • Glasses.
  • Dishes.
  • Pans.
  • Vases.
  • Decorative objects.

Mapuche pottery

The Mapuches were good potters, the findings regarding these in Chile reached their greatest fame, the pieces of the Atacameños stand out, whose beauty in lines and decorative drawings were admirable.

Arabic pottery

Pottery is relevant in Islamic art, Muslims found fired clay extremely interesting and ideal for experimenting with ornamental techniques and procedures; However, they use these pieces of art to highlight ancient traditions, aesthetics and decoration is paramount for these artists.

Roman pottery

They are characterized by being diverse productions, based on ancient traditions and divinities, which made their commercial potential explode and spread, they tend to be luxurious, their finish is neat and sophisticated.


In addition to being a type of art crucial for social development , the beginning of architecture is due to this, since without this procedure it is not known if large-scale buildings, or houses or shopping centers would exist, of which today we enjoy; Not only that, we have, thanks to said art, plates, glasses, containers and other very useful resources.

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