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HEARTLAND ART AND CRAFTS

Humble origin - Dirt taken to another level

Krateras, Oinochoe, Kylikas, Hydra, Skyphos, Lekythos and Amphorae. All names of ancient ceramic vessels. The plethora of exhibits at the Cyprus Museum in Lefkosia or any other local archaeological museum will clarify you these forms of pottery and demonstrate you the rich local ceramic tradition of Cyprus. The evolution of pottery from the Middle Bronze Age to the Roman period comes to life in these museums. You will understand that the Cypriot potters were producing wares mainly for practical use; storing wine, mixing wine with water, jugs for pouring wine, cups for drinking, jars for holding water, deep bowls and jars for holding oils and perfumes.

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pottery in cyprus

The quaint village of Kornos is renowned for its red clay pottery tradition that is done entirely by hand and a foot-powered wheel. Wander in the alleys and see the potters giving life to clay. Get your hands dirty, put the clay on the wheel and make your own ware. Try to make a simple clay bowl and then let the professionals create functional objects like kouza (medium-shaped pot with neck, used to serve water), pithaouri (pot to cook meat), koumnari or koumna (small or big jug used to store halloumi cheese or meat) or even pithari (big size jug used to store water or wine). The Cypriot potter decorated the pots using different techniques. Don’t be surprised if you see crosses and other ecclesiastical symbols on the big jugs. Due to their importance in the old times, the owners just wanted to protect their valuable content from the bad eye.

Up in the Troodos Mountains, there is Foini village, the crown jewel of the mountains. Amongst a verdurous environment, steep slopes and mountaintops, this village continues its rich pottery tradition and people can admire the pottery art from up close. Take a stroll in the winding, cobbled streets of the village and feel free to enter the yards of the stoned houses to hear the buzz of the household and find yourself surrounded by the hospitality of the locals. In these yards, you will see the traditional open air oven and maybe a smaller oven which is made of koumna. The Cypriots used to lay the koumna in a sloping position, covered it with clay, making it like a small oven, in which traditional foods like kleftiko or ttavas were baked.

Nowadays, pottery has evolved and can be seen as a fine art in galleries. Modern Cypriot potters give masterpieces both in terms of technique and quality. It is really interesting to see these artists who love clay infusing it with shape, form and color. Ceramic objects have an innate authenticity and the ceramic art is a journey through quests. Cyprus, having the art of Ceramics deeply rooted in its tradition for centuries, couldn’t just abandon it but to elevate it in a higher level. As Gustav Mahler said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire”.

 

Save the date: Kornos Pottery Festival

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