Thursday, April 22, 2010

UTENSILS - Clay cookware from Goabeiras

The Goabeiras neighborhood of Vítoria, the capital of the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, is home to a tradtional style of production of unglazed ceramic cookware, known in Portuguese as "Paneleiras de Goiabeiras." In small workshops and factories, artisans create beautiful, yet utilitarian, cookware using techniques originated by Brazil's Indian population long before the European colonization of Brazil began in 1500. Unglazed bowls, platters, plates and cups are molded by hand, without the use of a wheel, using clay which comes from the nearby Vale do Mulembá. Once formed, the greenware is left to dry in the direct sun, and then fired over open fires rather than in a kiln. After firing, the pieces of cookware are impregnated with tannin, which protects and seals the unglazed ceramics, and which provides the lustrous black finish characteristic of "Goiabeiras" ware. The finished product can be used as a cooking vessel, or as serving ware.

The video below from YouTube shows the entire process of production, and was made by the local ceramics cooperative. Traditionally, Goiabeiras ware was made by women at home, but now both men and women make the bowls and plates, and production is in small workshops supported by the cooperative.

In earlier posts I discussed how certain traditional and artisanal techniques have been recognized by IPHAN, Brazil's National Institution of Historical and Artistic Patrimony as "immaterial national treasures." The traditional practice of selling acarajé on the streets of Salvador was covered in this post. IPHAN  bestowed the same recognition as "national treasure" to the clayware of Goiabeiras in 2002 to ensure that this technique and style which dates back well over a thousand years is protected and preserved, and to honor those who carry on the traditions that their ancestors have passed on from generation to generation.


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