Ceramic bowl

Ceramic bowl

Shuar people

Morona-Santiago, Ecuador, 21st century


What is it and what is it used for? This painted ceramic jar was made for serving food and chicha beer.

Who made it? A Shuar woman from the southern Ecuadorian Amazon made this jar.

How was it made? First, the maker rolled out the clay and coiled it into shape. As she did this she sang a song to Nunjuí, or Mother Earth, to stop the jar from cracking while it was being fired. She left the jar to dry in her house in the beams over the fire for around four or five months, after which she took it down, covered it with wood and fired it. After firing she painted this jar with a red slip before decorating it with its black and white designs. She gave it a final coating with a tree sap to seal the surface and to make it easier to clean and use.

Are jars like this still being made? While most Amazonian peoples today still produce some pottery, in a number of communities it has become rare to see items being made at all. The Shuar people are amongst those who still make pottery but nowadays it is usually only the older women in Shuar villages who have the skills. Convincing younger people to become potters is difficult because people prefer to buy and use things made out of metals and plastics.

Linked objects:

Chontaduro palm

Cassava tuber

Chicha beer bowl

Hand painted skirt (chitonti)

Women’s bead aprons (keweyú)