Pottery is one of the most widespread activities in Peru.
Pottery is widely traded in the markets of Cuzco, Juliaca (Puno), Arequipa and at a network of arts and crafts centers and fairs held in Lima.
:: CHULUCANAS POTTERY
Ancient pre-Hispanic techniques used by the Vicus, Recuay and Pashash cultures such as “Colombine” and “Negatives”, obtained by cutting off the oxygen flow to the oven, are still used today in Chulucanas (Piura) and in the northern jungle by the Arabelas communities.
Another technique used in Simbila (Piura), and in Mollepampa (Cajamarca) is that of paleteo, whereby potters shape the clay with their hands and then beat it with a paddle, or paleta.
The utilitarian and decorative pottery of Chulucanas particularly in the district of La Encantada, where there are some 250 artisans, is one of the finest in Peru. This is largely because of the fine tones achieved by potters and the burnishing of their jars in the use of the black color as well as the sculpting of typical characters (chicha vendors, musicians and dancers) and animals that come to life in the hand-worked clay.
:: AYACUCHO POTTERY
In Quinua, a village located 25 miles from Ayacucho, pottery is the town's main activity. The quality of the red and cream-colored clay lend these works a unique characteristic. Despite their simple, almost childish forms, they are highly expresive.
Quinua is best-known for ceramic pieces such as small churches, chapels,houses and bulls called the toro de Quinua. Local potters have also become popular for figures such as peasant farmers, gossiping neighbors and a variety of religious themes.
:: PUNO POTTERY
The best-loved ceramic figure to come out of Puno is the torito de Pucara, the ceramic bull that is one of Peru's best known pieces of pottery.
The figurine was originally made as a ritual element during the cattle-branding ceremony. The bull figure, which is also a flask, was used to hold the chicha which was mixed with the blood of cattle and drunk by the high priest conducting the ceremony.
Puno potters also make churches, country chapels and homes, whose apparently unassuming design is covered with a white glaze. The figures are decorated with flowers and dashes of ground glass. Other common motifs include musicians, dancers and various elements of flora and fauna from the Lake Titicaca area.
:: CUSCO POTTERY
Cusco's pottery is heavily influenced by Inca tradition. In a movement that has revitalized Cusco art, known as Inca Renaissance, potters have created a vast collection of pieces.
These include the Tica Curuna (a flower motif), ppucus (dishes) and various types of colorful crockery such as keros, arybalos, qochas, ayanas and raquis.
Another trend in pottery is the socalled "grotesque" tradition, originally created by artisan Eriberto Merida and apparently inspired by the figures in Quinua pottery.
This style comprises rough, unpolished figurines such as peasants and Christs with deformed and even tormented facial features with oversized hands
:: SHIPIBO POTTERY
In the jungle, in addition to the Arabela, the Shipibo women living around the Ucayali River produce pottery from a highly malleable clay called neapo.
The most common decorative motifs include the well-known geometric lines or designs, which artisans use to represent their vision of the world.
The most elaborate objects include globets carved into shapes that are half-beast, which take on different positions, showing clearly-defined sexes. The potters also frequently craft huge jars shaped like animals such as tortoise and some of the local bird species.