Cerâmica Montemorense – “sam pucaros que nunqua sam velhos” | Pottery of Montemor-o-Novo


“Pots that are never old, like
the ones from other places. And the reason’s that they are made
of a very smelly clay and worked with very small rocks.” We have references, from the XIV century,
to the existence of potters in Montemor. We know that this activity was very
important in the XVI and XVII centuries. It was sold to other locations.
The region of Alentejo and along the coastline,
specially Lisbon. We are also aware of inventories and
testaments that mention pottery pieces
from Montemor. It continues in the XVIII century,
in the early XIX century it’s already in decline, but it still holds on until
the 40’s of the XX century where we have reference of two pottery
workshops. We can say that this was the end
of that activity. Thereafter, it was no longer held
in the village. This activity was primarily intended to supply the village population with cooking, eating and drinking earthenware.
It was also meant to preserve wine and olive oil in
big pitchers. We can assume that these pieces were
manufactured in large quantities even more so, because the houses, taverns
and cellars of Montemor were packed with the
productions of this industry Twelve years ago the
Municipality of Montemor-o-Novo has invested in several archaeological
excavations in the area designated as
Santa Maria da Vila, near the clock tower. These excavations, brought to light a very interesting set of houses,
from the last occupation period of the village inside the castle walls and
all the substructures connected to those houses. Particularly streets, silos, cisterns
and plumbing. All this allows a better understanding
of the organization of the village of Montemor-o-Novo
inside the castle walls, during the last occupation period. This street, now called Rua de
Santo António, was called for a very long time, since the middle age,
Rua dos Oleiros (Potter’s Street) It was here that most professionals of
this activity would gather. Although, in the XVII century, when the
first references to their residence or places where they actually lived,
appeared there are no more potters in
Rua dos Oleiros (Potter’s Street). They would now gather in Rua do Pedrão,
which is right next to this one and facing North. Their transition to this street would
have been due to the fact that the waterline serving their workshops
and that ran very close to this street, became polluted by
the large amount of tanneries in the tannery square. They would have come down
a bit more, and here they remained, until the
very end of this activity in Montemor. Most mineralized rock. When potters would find good quality
clay deposits, by that I mean very thin, very plastic, they would often need to clean them. In the first operation, they would
remove, or extract the clay from the soil, roots, big rocks and then decant it. They had two tanks.
One liquefaction tank for the paste. The decantation would take place in
the bottom. In the tank we could find the sand and the
thicker material, the thicker clay. Sometimes, when they had two tanks, they
would open a water gate. Thus moving the thin clay at the surface to the bottom tank. It was then
placed to air dry. The water was extracted to the point where
the clay became plastic. Usually it was removed when the clay
started to crack, but by then it was often moldable. The thinner clay, was used to craft
the more delicate pieces. Like mugs and other thin items,
small bowls, water accessories and tableware like
small pitchers. All those pieces were crafted with a
more thin and plastic clay. The bottom clays, are the ones that
have more rocks and sand and were therefore used to craft the
bigger pots. We have been surfacing a large collection
of archaeological findings. Mostly pottery, metals and glass used by the people that lived here
in the past. Of all these findings, pottery deserves
a special mention. Pottery represents approximately 90%
of everything we find. Pottery has several features that made it
famous in its time. One of them is the ability of
renewing itself. Meaning that when water gets
in contact with pottery it immediately starts to look different. Whiter, and this sort of rustic feel
would disappear. What did they do? They scraped them with a rock and it would appear once again. Another feature that made it very famous was what it does to the water, when in
contact with it. It gives water a taste and smell. Some say that it actually grants
healing properties to the water it carries. “The fine clay she possesses and
from which several mugs are crafted, though with a crude semblance,
exquisite scent and very rocky, such fresh drinking they offer. From the same clay are made several
beads and other curious things. Script Direction, Image, Sound and Editing Production Guest Appearance Co-Production Translation and Subtitling Special Thanks Music Illustration Logo and Design Print A Municipality of Montemor-o-Novo’s
Initiative

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