Horezu Pottery

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Horezu Pottery

Romanian ceramics compiles an experience that dates back to Neolithic times. The “Cucuteni” culture of this period is recognized as having one of the most refined and stylish potteries in all of Europe. Nowadays, the most famous Romanian pottery is made in and around the town of Horezu, in northern Wallachia. An age-old craft, modeling clay has become a real art in the hands of old masters, the inhabitants of this heavenly region.
Horezu pottery – unique to Romania due to the chromatics and floral motives – is emblematic for the region and is known worldwide. Preserving the local tradition and displaying Byzantine influences that have turned the craft into a brand for the Horezu valley, the Horezu pottery is shaped only on the traditional kick-wheel, with simple finishing tools. Its burning is usually made in horizontal stoves using the oxidation technique, thus resulting in red earthenware. Most of the ceramic objects are decorated in delicate, yet powerful geometric and vegetal patterns, artfully painted by the masters’ wives, using 100% natural colors and ancient age old tools such as cow horns and goose feathers.
The traditional glazed ceramic objects are: plates, mugs, pitchers, bowls and even toys and flutes. The most frequently used colors in Horezu are brown, orange-red, green and lately even blue. Light colors are preferred for the background. The colors are natural and the tools used are conventional too: cow horns and the quill (goose feather). The color of the pottery is given by special clays brought from hills in the village (white earth) and from hills in the neighbor villages (red and brown).The clay is prepared through a traditional technique and not used immediately, and needs to yeast for a while – big clay balls are broken into small particles through a wetting-drying process. After decoration the pottery is burned in traditional kilns made of clay bricks and twigs. At last, the pots are covered with a special enamel material and backed for the second time.
The motifs are varied and many of them were preserved through time, even if they suffered changes in their representation. The most popular motif for the region is the Horezu Rooster, but there are other symbolic drawings: the spiral, the star, the snake of the house, the tree of life, the wavy line (the lost way), concentric circles, and the wheat ears. The pottery is shaped using the traditional kick-wheel. Usually men form the objects and women give the finishing touch, decorating them. The traditional painting method called “jirăvirea” is a special technique used for adornment. This is made by joining the edges of a spiral with its center, while the paint is still wet. This technique allows the making of an infinite number of models that result from the combination of the colors that appear in a spiral and through the different styles through which this traditional painting method is done.
The town of Horezu houses the largest ceramics fair in the country, “The Hurez Rooster – Cocosul de Hurez”, an event that takes place every year on the first Saturday and Sunday of June. The fair is attended by craftsmen from all the pottery centres across the country ( Horezu – Vâlcea, Oboga – Olt, Vlădesti – Vâlcea, Corund – Harghita, Baia Mare, Hunedoara, Timis, Marginea – Suceava, Lungeşti – Vâlcea, Slătioara – Vâlcea, Miercurea Nirajului, Odorheiul Secuiesc, and so on).
The Horezu Pottery – included in UNESCO Patrimony on December 6, 2012
UNESCO decided on Thursday, December 6 2012 in Paris, during the 7th session of the Intergovernmental Commitee for the Protection of the Cultural Imaterial Patrimony, to include the Romanian Horezu ceramics in the list of the UNESCO Cultural Imaterial Patrimony. România has also included in this list the ritual of the Căluşari, in 2008, and the song of Doina, in 2009.
According to UNESCO, the preparation of the Horezu ceramics is “a unique traditional work”, practiced both by men and women in northern Wallachia. So “the men are extracting the clay, that is cleaned, cut, wetted, and mixed, to become the best material for the preparation of the famous Horezu vessels. Women are decorating the objects using specific traditional techniques and instruments for drawing traditional models”.
UNESCO said also that, “the techniques, the art and the knowledge associated to the Horezu ceramics are symbolic markers for the identity of the community from Horezu and Olari and the inclusion of the Horezu ceramics in the UNESCO list can contribute to the cooperation with other artisans from other areas to promote the respect for cultural diversity and human creativity”.

The UNESCO list has today more than 170 masterpieces from 75 countries. The Cultural Immaterial Patrimony refers to traditions and oral expressions including language as vector of the cultural immaterial patrimony, the art performances, social practices, rituals and events, knowledge and practices related to the nature and Universe, techniques related to traditional works.

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