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As the world starts to open up again, we would like to take you on a fascinating trip to Mexico. On this occasion we will be visiting the state of Oaxaca which is well-known for its black clay pottery (barro negro in Spanish).


Oaxaca -phonetically spelt Wahaca; yes, like the restaurants in the UK! - is one of Mexico’s most acclaimed states; it is ethnically and linguistically diverse and has a vibrant culinary scene. Oaxaca is considered by many the gastronomic capital of Mexico and is best known for its varieties of mole. Mole is a thick and rich sauce served with meat and rice and comes in a variety of colours including red, black, yellow and green and is a mixture of fruits, nuts, chocolate and a wide variety of chilies. The name comes from the Nahuatl words for sauce – mōlli. Oaxaca is also the home of mezcal in the same way that Jalisco is the home to tequila.


Oaxaca is not only famous for its food and vibrant culture; Oaxaca is popular for being home to barro negro, a pottery style which is distinctive for its colour, sheen and unique designs. The pottery style is one of the most identified with the state and is also one of the most popular styles of pottery in Mexico, its origins extend as far back as the Monte Alban period.


However, it was not until the fifties that Doña Rosa, a potter from Oaxaca, developed a technique to put a black metallic like sheen onto the pottery by polishing before firing. 


Since the 1980s, Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, a renowned Mexican artist, has promoted the barro negro and his work has been exhibited across the world, from the Parc de la Villette in Paris and the Fine Arts Centre Museum in Chicago to the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.


What makes barro negro so unique?


Barro negro is world famous. The manufacturing process of each piece is long and requires remarkable skills. First, the clay is kneaded until it becomes smooth and then it is moulded into the shape that the piece will take. Once moulded, it is dried in the sunlight for four days, after which, if there are no stains or imperfections, the piece is polished by hand with quartz crystals to give it the shiny effect. 


The decorative perforations are called calado and are done with a sharp blade to create geometrical shapes. Once the shapes are carved, the pottery is fired in a traditional wood-fired kiln for one day.

It is during this process that the ceramic acquires its distinctive black colouration.


Don’t miss out on the barro negro bowls for your dogs, handmade by Artisans in Oaxaca and designed by Canuto. These bowls keep the water fresh and are very unique!

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