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.
The entire mucawa is first painted with red slip, then the decoration
is added in white, black and more red slip-like pigments. These are all
naturally-occuring colors, some of which come from local sources while
others are obtained in trade. The painting is done with a tiny human hair
brush, often only one or two hairs thick. Designs are all different and
based on animal and jungle imagery abstracted to geometric pattern.
Dora painting a large tinaja (vase form). Note the pet parrot sitting
on her left arm.
Mucawas are fired over an open fire, in this case the cooking fire.
One mucawa is under the ashes in the firing container, while another one
sits on top of the ashes preheating. Other small pieces are also being
preheated around the fire.
After the mucawas have been fired to a dull red orange heat they are
carefully removed from the firing container and the ashes dusted off. After
a few moments of cooling they are rubbed with a stick of tree sap resin
which acts like a varnish to seal and waterproof the form. This must be
done while the mucawa is still hot, but not too hot.
The container used to fire the mucawas is simply a large bowl with the
bottom broken out, usually a piece of the undecorated ware made for more
casual daily use.
A diagram of how the mucawas are fired in the ash-filled firing bowl. The larger firing bowl has no bottom so the heat of the fire can come up into the mucawa being fired. The mucawa is covered with wood ash which acts as an insulating layer, basically making a tiny kiln for one mucawa.
Diagrams of typical Kichwa pottery shapes.
More Kichwa pottery photos
Go back previous page of Kichwa photos
Comments? Send email to: