Saturday, December 22, 2007

Folk Art - The Pottery Tradition - Sao Miguel

The repetition of old patterns' shapes and the use of raw materials from the island itself characterises the handicrafts of São Miguel. Mats made from leaves of maize and flag, colourful dolls of maize husks representing picturesque figures in their regional costumes, artificial flowers made from fish scales, paper, cloth and feathers and wickerwork are examples of the works of art that come from practised and skilful hands. To which must be added the linen embroideries, the hand woven counterpanes with squares, lozenges and colourful fluting and the woollen caps worn by the shepherds.

The first inhabitants brought with them the art of clay modelling. Pottery making already has a centuries-old tradition at Vila Franca do Campo, which once had dozens of potteries in operation, using clay brought by sailing boats from the island of Santa Maria. Today only a few potters reproduce on its wheels the traditional shapes of bowes, trays, pots, pitchers, fanciful and elegant jars and the excellent miniatures that attract collectors.

Lagoa, a pottery centre that was born in the middle of the l9th century, soon gained great fame beyond the horizons of the Azores for the decoration shapes and glazing of its pieces, The skill and art of its potters goes far beyond the utilitarian and includes statuettes and figurines, decorative vases and glazed tiles.

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