Black Clay Ceramic

Black mud is considered one of the most popular and rigorous pottery styles in Mexico.

Origins of black clay ceramics.

Its origins are in the Zapotec and Mixtec cultures of the Central Valleys of Mexico. The first pieces were made in Monte Albán in matte grayish tones. Vestiges of this household material were also found in the Zapotec and Mixtec culture of the Central Valleys, which had more resistance.

In 1950 Ms. Rosa Real Mateo Nieto discovered that when you polish the pieces and cook them at a slightly lower temperature than normal, it could change the color and brightness of the pieces.

To get it, before the piece of mud is completely dry, it is polished with a quartz stone and after being cooked. Then begins to take its shine in black. This also makes the pieces more fragile, but they have become a distinguished symbol of Mexican pottery.

The tradition left by Doña Rosa continue by her children and grandchildren, who give demonstrations for tourists in their workshop.

Black mud pieces can be of two types: with a glossy black finish or a matte grey.

It is also important we recognize the work of “CarloMagno Pedro Martínez” who was born in San Bartolo Coyotepec, growing up in a family of potters and who focused on human skulls made of black mud, expressing through his pottery themes about death and religion.

Where to find them.

This type of crafts are manufactured in San Bartolo Coyotepec, but also a variety of places nearby. This place is 6.8 miles from the City of Oaxaca and about 600 families of these places are dedicated to the manufacture of black mud.

You will find the black mud workshops inside the houses of the artisans, however you will also find a craft market where many visitors from Mexico and the world come to buy unique pieces of black mud.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

You will find the black mud workshops inside the houses of the artisans; however you will also find a craft market where many visitors from Mexico and the world come to buy unique pieces of black mud.

And not everything are sites, there is also the Black Mud Craft Fair, there more than 150 artisans participate and takes place every year in this site.

Black Clay Objects.

Among the objects you can find with this material are:

  • Pots
  • Whistles
  • Bells
  • Flutes
  • Bells
  • Masks
  • Lamps
  • Animal Figures.

I would like to clarify that all these objects are used for decorative purposes. The only objects that if used for practical purposes are:

  • Cántaros (Since mezcal is fermented here and stored in some distilleries)-. However, these containers are preserved in matte grey as this allows them to be resistant to liquid.
  • Chango mezcalero (this is a monkey-shaped container, made to store 700 ml. And 1 liter of mezcal with cork or a stopper made of corn.

Creation process

The materials are extracted in a Zapotec village, the artisans continue extracting the mud from an outdoor mine that is in the foothills of Cerro del León, which provides them with their work material. A very old popular belief says: “… to the mine that provides mud to the artisans of San Bartolo Coyotepec, which they call Guegove, women should not enter, nor people outside the population, for the guardian or nahual spirit can become angry and cause the earth to become rough.” This magical idea is the generator of the aura of mysticism that surrounds the black mud that is made there, and that permeaes the traditional Zapotec myths and legends that have passed from generation to generation.

The soil is cleaned to be able to remove impurities, for this process the earth takes up to 20 days to be soaked and sedimented to be cleaned.

Traditionally the process is done through rocks as no traditional pottery tools are used.

When the parts already have their shape are put to dry in a room and these protect them from temperature changes, this process can take up to 3 weeks.

The soil with which these parts are made is cleaned to be able to remove impurities, for this process the earth takes up to 20 days to be soaked and sedimented to be cleaned. Traditionally the process is done through rocks as no traditional pottery tools are used. When the parts already have their shape are put to dry in a room and thus protect them from temperature changes, this process can take up to 3 weeks.

The pieces are then cooked in wood ovens or in holes underground. Objects are heated to a temperature of 700oC.

Leave a Reply