Kichwa Potters of Jatun Molino
The following images are from the small village of Jatun Molino on the
Rio Bobonaza in the Amazonian basin of Ecuador. The potters here make highly
decorated vessels which are fired in a simple bonfire firing and coated
with a tree sap resin to waterproof them. The shine on the surface comes
from this resin coating. The people are known as the Kichwa (formerly spelled Quichua), or sometimes
the Canelos Kichwa from the town of Canelos which is nearby.
For more information on this fascinating and beautiful work, please
read Joe Molinaro's article (linked here on the CeramicsWeb). I would like
to thank Joe Molinaro and also San Diego State University for making it
possible for me to take these photographs.
All photos (c) 1994 Richard Burkett
Note that some shift in color may occur in translating these
to your type of computer and monitor. They will probably look
best on a high resolution color monitor set to millions of colors.
Click any image to enlarge it slightly.
Map of the Pastaza region of Ecuador. Jatun Molino is about in the center
of the map, on the Rio Bobonaza reachable only by river or airplane, despite
what looks like a road on the map.
Jatun Molino from the air with the Rio Bobonaza flowing past. This is
nearly the entire village. The dirt airstrip is at the top right just out
of the picture.
A typical house in this region of the Amazon basin. The family typically
lives upstairs, with storage and animals kept below. The pottery is often
fired in the family cooking fire, which is sometimes built on the wooden
upper floor on a sand and clay covered pad to protect the floor from the
heat. Larger pieces are fired outdoors.
Dora digging clay. She has found a spot near one of the garden areas
which has a smooth, clean gray clay with pretty good plasticity. She loads
several handfuls of it onto a palm leaf to carry back to the pottery area.
This type of clay will be used to make mucawas, the chicha-drinking bowls.
Elsa works on coiling a mucawa. These are completely coil-built, then
carefully smoothed and scraped with a gourd rib. The shapes are remarkably
symmetrical. No wheel of any type is used. After initial shaping the mucawas
are put aside to stiffen before finishing work is done.
Olivia trims the rim of this mucawa by biting it off with her teeth.
She then smooths the rim with a small piece of wet corn husk. Once the
form is finished, the mucawas are put aside to dry before painting.
More Kichwa pottery photos
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