It comes from the Old French poterie, which means pottery. From ancient times to the present day pottery has become not only an art, but also a custom and a culture.


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What is pottery?

The art of creating using materials such as baked clay is called pottery. Throughout history, this discipline has been used to create pots, pans, plates, pots and pans, among other objects made using this technique. However, it is also called pottery to those objects made with clay and then cooked once.


“Pottery is popular ceramic, the most common, which was made in the villages for popular use. Then the ceramics came, everything that is decorated, with a sumptuary, artistic character.” Emili Francés Sempere.


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

In Latin America, specifically in Peru, very old objects have been found, such as those of KotoshHuayrajirca (1850 B.C.). These containers, generally painted in red and yellow, not only served the function of containers, but were also used as decoration of the environment, and in some cases were even implemented in religious rituals.

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

Characteristics of pottery

The main characteristics of pottery are:


The different types of pottery that exist are the following:


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

With time the wheels of spool and crosses, of suspense disc or lathe of spool, of disc of cross or wheel of crosses became known, after this the modern lathes and the electric lathes appeared, which are being used at the present time.

Some auxiliary tools are the following:


Many materials are used in pottery, among them all stand out:


Elaboration process

Mainly, the clay is kneaded, hoping in this way that humidity and other particles are distributed homogeneously, eliminating the probability that air bubbles remain in the material, if there is any air capsule left at the time of baking 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 in order to avoid fractures or cracks.

Subsequently, the piece is taken to the open air, until it dries and hardens enough, however, at this stage of the process the pieces are very delicate and brittle, therefore must be handled with extreme subtlety, when the piece is dry in its entirety, its color is lighter and becomes harder, artisans tend to pass a fine sandpaper or a damp sponge to polish it.

This is how it is taken to the oven, where it is expected to lose moisture and acquires greater strength and sonority, with this last stage of baking the piece is finished and you can admire the final product.

Pottery objects

Mapuche pottery

The Mapuches were good potters, the findings with respect to these in Chile reached their greater 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 baked 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 them exploit their commercial potential and spread, they tend to be luxurious, their finish is neat and sophisticated.


In addition to being a type of art that is crucial for social development, this is the origin of architecture, because without this procedure it is not known if there would be large-scale buildings, or houses or shopping centers, which we enjoy today; not only that, we have thanks to this art, plates, glasses, packaging and other useful resources.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Pottery. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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