Pottery art and artifact

We try to introduce pottery as one of the most ancient and useful artifacts made by human being during epochs.

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The definition of pottery simply is the process and the products of forming objects and earthenware with clay. Major types of clay-based pottery include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.                

Pottery is one of the oldest and most widespread of the decorative art, consisting of objects made of clay and hardened with heat. The objects made are commonly useful ones, such as vessels for holding liquids or plates or bowls from which food can be served.

It also has been used as an art and even nomads in human life during many millenniums.


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China Pottery


Pottery also is one of the oldest human inventions, originating before the Neolithic period, with ceramic objects figurine discovered in the Czech Republic dating back to 29,000–۲۵,۰۰۰ BC, and pottery vessels that were discovered in Jiangxi, China, which date back to 18,000 BC. Early Neolithic and pre-Neolithic pottery artifacts have been found, in Jōmon Japan (۱۰,۵۰۰ BC).

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Production stages


As it was said Clay-based pottery can be divided into three main groups: earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
These require increasingly more specific clay material, and increasingly higher firing temperatures. All three are made in glazed and unglazed varieties, for different purposes. All may also be decorated by various techniques.

In many examples the group a piece belongs to is immediately visually apparent, but this is not always the case. The fritware of the Islamic world does not use clay, so technically falls outside these groups.
Historic pottery of all these types is often grouped as either “fine” wares, relatively expensive and well-made, and following the aesthetic taste of the culture concerned, or alternatively “coarse”, “popular”, “folk” or “village” wares, mostly undecorated, or simply so, and often less well-made.

Pottery is made by forming a ceramic (often clay) body into objects of a desired shape and heating them to high temperatures (600-1600 °C) in a bonfire, pit or kiln and induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing the strength and rigidity of the object. Much pottery is purely utilitarian, but much can also be regarded as ceramic art.
A clay body can be decorated before or after firing.

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Nicaraqua pottery
Mexican pottery

Forming processing and shaping the clay

Raw clay consists primarily of true clay particles and undecomposed feldspar mixed with other components of the igneous rocks from which it was derived, usually appreciable quantities of quartz and small quantities of mica, iron oxides, and other substances. The composition and thus the behaviour and plasticity of clays from different sources are therefore slightly different. Except for coarse earthenwares, which can be made from clay as it is found in the earth, pottery is made from special clays plus other materials mixed to achieve the desired results. The mixture is called the clay body, or batch.

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To prepare the batch, the ingredients are combined with water and reduced to the desired degree of fineness. The surplus water is then removed.

The earliest vessels were modeled by hand, using the finger and thumb, a method employed still by the Japanese to make raku tea bowls.
Flat slabs of clay luted together (using clay slip as an adhesive) were employed to make square or oblong vessels, and the slabs could be formed into a cylinder and provided with a flat base by the same means. Coiled pottery was an early development.
Long rolls of clay were coiled in a circle, layer upon layer, until the approximate shape had been attained; the walls of the vessel were then finished by scraping and smoothing.
Some remarkably fine early pots were made in this way.

Pottery can be shaped by 10 different methods as follow:

  1. Hand-building
  2. The potter’s wheel
  3. Granulate pressing
  4. Injection moulding
  5. Jiggering and jolleying
  6. Roller-head machine
  7. Pressure casting
  8. RAM pressing
  9. Slip casting
  10. ۳D printing

Drying, turning, and firing

Newly shaped articles were formerly allowed to dry slowly in the atmosphere.
In 20th century pottery factories, this stage was speeded up by the introduction of automatic dryers, often in the form of hot, dry tunnels through which the ware passes on a conveyor belt.

Turning is the process of finishing the greenware (unfired ware) after it has dried to leather hardness. The technique is used to smooth and finish foot rings on wheel-thrown wares or undercut places on molded or jiggered pieces.
It is usually done on the potter’s wheel or jigger as the ware revolves. Lathe turning, like most hand operations, was tending to disappear in the mid-20th century except on the more ornamental and expensive objects.

The earliest vessels, which were sun-dried but not fired, could be used only for storing cereals and similar dry materials.
If a sun-dried clay vessel is filled with water it absorbs the liquid, becomes very soft, and eventually collapses; but if it is heated, chemical changes that begin to take place at about 900 °F (500 °C) preclude a return to the plastic state.

After thorough drying, the pottery is fired in a kiln. In early pottery making, the objects were simply stacked in a shallow depression or hole in the ground, and a pyre of wood was built over them. Later, coal- or wood-fired ovens became almost universal.
In the 20th century both gas and electricity were used as fuels. Many improvements were made in the design of intermittent kilns, in which the ware is stacked when cold and then raised to the desired temperature. These kilns were extravagant of fuel, however, and were awkward to fill or empty if they did not have time to cool completely. For these reasons they were replaced by continuous kilns, the most economical and successful of which is the tunnel kiln.
In these kilns, the wares were conveyed slowly from a comparatively cool region at the entrance to the full heat in the centre. As they neared the exit after firing, they cooled gradually.

Pottery also may be decorated and glazed in many different ways. Some decoration can be done before or after the firing.

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Production sites in Iran

Iran as an ancient country also has been one of the well-known countries of pottery production which produces many glorious pottery with beautiful ornament and unique art.  

Major pottery production sites are in all around the country, some provinces such as: Isfahan, Tabriz, Sistan, Gilan, Hormozgan, Hamadan and so on.

One of the main areas in Iran that has a very special way of producing pottery is Kalpuregan. Kalpuregan village is located in south east of Iran in Sistan province. The only characteristic that distinguishes Kalpuregan from other areas is its indigenous pottery, creation of civilization by Baluchi women artists. According to one of the village elders, manufacturing practices dating back to about 4 to 6 thousand years ago still remains intact.
The only workshop that is still active and persistent to continue working with primitive method is Kalpuregan pottery workshop.


Throughout the history the art of pottery in Kalpuregan has belonged to women since men had the burden of hunting or farming. According to historical evidence, indigenous women are creators of pottery art. In this land, delicate tasks are done by women and men only have the responsibility of preparing and firing the clay.

Another thing that distinguishes pottery of the region from other parts of the country is that women in Kalpuregan do not use pottery wheel to make pottery.
It is amazing that such a magnificent work is possible only with traditional and innovative methods and the help of rural women’s loving cracked hands. Potteries in this area learn this art from their mothers or clan women.

Paintings on pottery are abstract symbols that remained from generation to generation and indicate the artist’s beliefs and spiritual desires of her surroundings. Often symbolic paintings are similar to early prehistoric pottery.
Indigenous artist women in this area believe they should use simple and abstract geometric patterns to paint pottery pieces exactly like their Ancestors.

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