UNESCO Lists Chile’s Black Pottery Art Threatened by Logging

The unique know-how of the villages of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca has been placed on the World Heritage Safeguard List.

Black pottery is in the red. Traditional ceramics shaped for ages in the Chilean villages of Quinchamali and Santa Cruz de Cuca were listed on Tuesday on UNESCO cultural heritage list. It requires urgent preservation because of the disappearance, through logging, of the raw material used in its manufacture.

The potters of Quinchamali and Santa Cruz de Cuca, mostly women, had applied in 2020 for inclusion on the Unesco safeguard list in order to obtain a mechanism to protect the clay with which they make their works. , which they extract only in the summer season but consider threatened by the development of forestry companies.

“The logging companies have planted pines or eucalyptus. They contaminated our clayNayadet Nuñez, 31, told AFP. But our resources are already scarce. Ceramics are made from two types of clay, one gray and one brown, which are kneaded and mixed with yellow earth, then fired to form cups, plates or decorative items such as figurines of animals.

smoke dye

At least six generations of potters have passed on the know-how of this craft in these two rural villages with no more than 2,000 inhabitants, in the region of Ñuble, in central Chile.

The most striking feature of these ceramics is their black color, which is achieved through a smoke-dyeing process. Before being fired, the bas-relief motifs are made using a needle or a piece of pewter, then painted with local white sand.

According to the application form submitted to Unesco, there are only five male and 74 female potters currently carrying on the tradition, many of whom are elderly. In 10 years, there would only be 12 potters under 60.

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