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San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca
- Oaxacan Black Pottery

Located 13 kilometers south of the city of Oaxaca off of hwy 175

GPS: 16°57'N 96°42'W

to the north
Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Monte Albán
Santa María Atzompa
to the east
Hierve el Agua
to the south
El Cerrito
Ocotlán de Morelos
San Martín Tilcajete
Santo Tomás Jalietza
Main Index
Oaxaca, Oaxaca
An Overview of Barro Negro
Doña Rosa Shop
Pottery-making Demonstration
Chango Mezcalero
Highway 175
Oaxacan Wood Carvings
Angélica Vásquez, Ceramicist
Armando Lozano, Sculptor
Tom Bachmaier, Jeweler
Visitors' Comments
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Decorative Oaxacan black pottery   This type with openings in the sides does not travel well--they often break.
San Bartolo Coyotepec is known for its artisans that produce Oaxacan black pottery.

This area has produced pottery for centuries. Pottery artifacts unearthed in many of Oaxaca's archaeological sites have been traced to the clay found only in this area. In more recent times, to the 1950s, the principal pottery product was the earthenware vessels used to transport mescal from hillside farms into the communities for sale to consumers. The containers, which held about 3 gallons each, were lashed together and slung over the backs of burros for the journey. With the advent of plastic jugs, the use of the heavy pottery was abandoned. The potters of Coyotepec searched for new applications of their pottery skills. One resident, Doña Rosa, came up with a method for making

Pottery urns of the type used to transport
decorative black pottery from the local clay. Her method involves a shorter firing time and a polishing treatment to the surfaces. She attempted to keep her technique a secret, but word got out and there are a number of shops producing this type of pottery locally. The pottery is decorative only and should not be used for cooking or serving. It is rumored that diesel fuel, essentially a multipurpose household agent in Mexico, is involved in the process. Some imitators have been known to use black shoe polish in their process. The older utilitarian pottery pieces were not black in color, but more of a light grayish brown color. See Chango Mezcalero.

The Doña Rosa shop is probably the largest and most well-stocked in town. Doña Rosa herself has passed on, but the business continues in her family. There is an interesting pottery-making demonstration conducted by her son. The shop will ship your purchases home if you desire. The pieces are rather fragile, not being hard-fired, so care should be taken when packing them. See More Photos of the Doña Rosa shop.

Another place of interest in Coyotepec is Tlapanochestli, a research facility, museum, ranch and open-air teaching environment devoted to the subject of cochineal, the insect found on the cactus plant used in the production of natural red dye.

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The Pacific Coast of Mexico www.tomzap.com Tom Penick:  tom@tomzap.com