Chorotega Pottery is very important part of our culture in Guanacaste for being an ancient tradition that was learned from our ancestors The Chorotegas Indigenous.
The salient potteries are produced by Guaitil residents of Santa Cruz and San Vicente of Nicoya . Guaitil is a Chorotega indigenous village, named for the dye-giving Guaitil tree and situated in San Vicente de Nicoya, Guanacaste , has for more than 5,000 years produced some of the world’s most stunning pottery. It is a complete escape from the norm and exploration of tradition – a dusty, rugged town known best for its pottery. And, in our opinion, just as deservingly for its food. But we’ll get there in a moment.
They work the clay using traditional techniques and indigenous ancestral Chorotegas, that once inhabited this part of the country. They found pottery dating more than 2,500 years which means pottery activity has a pre-Hispanic origin.
The history data shows the production of ceramics in the early XX century, an activity where men participate only in obtaining raw materials and preparation thereof. Women developed the activity and shared their knowledge from generation to generation within the family.
Materials and preparation:
In the area of San Vicente and Guatil, the materials are brought from mountains , which are usually extracted from the mud of a local hill that once cast mix it with sand “iguana”-black color (located near the iguana nests).
The resident artisans bring their carts and shovels to the Rincon de San Vicente to remove the mud, the most basic ingredient ,from the same place or in mountain, artisans bring the ground stones; black, red and white and then mixed with water and clay to make the pigments what they called Curiol used to decorate the pieces . There are several colors and is said that if you come to the hill making noise, the red color get hidden from you!
Once the materials have been brought home, the process of creation begins. First, the mud is sprayed into a cone shape and passed through a sieve. The iguana sand is then poured into the sifted mud, and water is added to form a paste which can be molded. Finally, the mixture is kicked by the barefoot artisans until a desired texture is reached.
During the next phase, the individual pieces are shaped using a small lathe and the expert hands of the craftsmen. The shapes range from big bowls and vases to ornaments, plates, and even whistles. Once molded into the desired shape, the piece is given the finishing touches with a gourd knife or spoon, then placed under the sun to dry, they paint with lines, points, geometrical shapes, animals, etc… Subsequently they place in a traditional oven, where they are burned and cleaned .Once dry, the object is polished smooth.
Agricultural societies indigenous been elaborated the pottery for utilitarian purposes such as cooking and food storage as well pieces more complex with polychrome zoomorphic forms, for ritual purposes and usually placed them on the graves.
All cooking containers were made in ceramic . The water had kept fresh in this pieces.
Nimbuera: A word “composed” by other two words. “Nimbu”: water and “¿Era?” or “Uhpu”: Container. Means ,Container to keep fresh water.
Though more than 85% of the families in Guaitil make their living from the creation of pottery, this great tradition is currently in danger. The clay mines in San Vicente have been sold to foreign companies which are extracting the raw materials and selling the clay at exhobitant prices.
To learn more about the 5,000 year old tradition of Guaitil Pottery, we encourage you to visit this July 25th the Local workshop in Guaitil. There you can see exhibitions, hear talks about the history of indigenous pottery, see demonstrations, and participate in workshops on local traditions.
After your shopping, we also encourage you to stop by one of the local restaurants, where you can sample local Costa Rican and traditional Chorotega fare.
The Chorotega diet, which was primarily rooted in corn, has persisted over the centuries. Long after their populations were decimated from the slave-trade, the Chorotega still have great influence over the Guanacastecan diet, which pulls from the centuries to craft dozens of corn-based dishes, paired with beans, squash, fish, meat, and other local produce.
Guaitil is known for this traditional fare and we strongly suggest you give it a sampling. It’s delicious, healthy, and likely different from anything you’ve eaten before – not to mention, it’s the local specialty.
The Gauitil Eco-museum is OPEN to the public where you can learn about beautiful ceramic art , their process, history and ancestral techniques. You ca take a pottery lessons
After this visit you will understand how much talent and effort it takes to make each of these unique pottery pieces and if you liked to…you will have the chance to purchase a great souvenir directly from the producers!
Contact us to give you a FREE Guide how get and enjoy Guaitil and 5,000 Year Old Tradition.