The Potters of Amatenango del Valle
Potter craftswomen of Chiapas in Amatenango del Valle preserve traditional techniques and knowledge, many of them dating back to pre-Hispanic times. Chiapas is one of the states that produce the greatest variety of handicrafts in Mexico, in shapes, textures, and colors that are part of the intangible cultural heritage.
Chiapas handicrafts are characterized by combining ancient and renewed traditions linked to the original Mayan, Zoque, and Chiapaneca peoples, with the innovation and artistic sense of individual creators.
This produces an amazing variety of products and styles with international recognized, showing the multicultural personality that makes Chiapas in the country and the world.
Amatenango del Valle, the Tseltal town of the potters, is located on a small hill overlooking a fertile valley covered with crops, 35 km southeast of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in the region of Los Altos. The potters of this locality are famous for the skill with which they work the white clay and elaborate ornamental pieces and articles of practical use such as pots, pitchers, vessels, vases, flower vases, flowerpots and the famous pieces that represent doves and jaguars.
The pieces are fired traditionally, with firewood in the open air. The potters model by hand the clay collected in the surrounding lands, paint their pieces with stones from the river, and then burn them in the open air. Its common to use natural clay for the finishes, even when decorations with mineral engobes, burnishing, and sgraffito are used.
The master craftswomen, like those of Amatenango, contribute to the enrichment and development of the towns and are a living history and learning reference for future generations.