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  • 9/17/2006

Pottery, Serene and Shapely

   Pottery began from the simple and natural relation between man and nature and soil through leaving behind centuries of human life in history. It displays the optimal use of nature and artistic delicacies.

   Pottery is a general term for all wares made of clay and hardened either in the sun, in a fire, or in some kind of kiln. Kilning has for centuries been the customary method, although the other two proceeded it and are still employed among primitive peoples.

   Clay occurs in nearly every part of the world inhabited by man, much of it in easily accessible places, such as hillsides and the banks of streams and rivers. It is of two main types: sedimentary, clay which has picked up all kinds of sediments and other materials while being transported by streams; and residual, clay that has resided in one pocket since it was first formed and therefore is in its original pure state.

   Sedimentary clay is the more common and more useful to the potter. The type of sediment in any clay influences its behavior both in handling and in firing. Clays that have a high iron content turn red or pink in the kiln; others turn buff, gray-blue, brown, pink, or black. Although too brittle for most potting purposes, residual clay, which turns white on firing, has been used for decoration since the earliest times. The degree of heat reached in the firing and the amount of air accompanying it also affect the appearance and substance of the finished ware. All these factors were observed and made use of long before the geology of the world and the chemistry of clays were understood.

   Cooking and storage pots, eating and drinking vessels, and urns for the cremated remains of the dead are the earliest known pottery vessels.

   4,000 years before Christ, pottery entered Iranian"s lives who due to their tradition of potting and knowledge of glazes preserved from the remotest age made an important contribution to ceramic history since.

   Not only were the Iranians supreme in shaping clay-wares into beautiful, serene shapes, but they also had two means of producing a white surface on which colored designs could be painted, regardless of the color of the clay body underneath. The first of these was to coat a finished vessel with a white slip of white-burning pipe clay, on the absorbent surface of which designs were painted with a sure touch and covered with a clear alkaline glaze.

   The second process was to cover the clay body with a glaze that was opaque and white by the addition of tin oxide. The surface was then painted with colored enamels that were no more than clear glazes tinted with metal oxides. The former method was the more common, since tin was a rare and costly material in Iran.

   Painting in luster colors was also first practiced in Iran. Silver and copper, sometimes with a small addition of gold, were ground up and the resulting powder suspended in a liquid that was then used to paint designs on a white surface. The powders on firing turned either brownish-olive, coppery, or, in alight firing, golden. Calligraphic, abstract, and plant designs were executed in both colored and luster decoration. Wall tiles for mosques were commonly decorated with luster, as were dishes and jugs.


   As a result of the above-mentioned variation and innovation in applying artistic methods and enjoyment of simple and natural mechanism, especially real enamels Iranian pottery was set on the peak of history of this art in the world during this period.

   However, mysteries and secrets of the art lie in the fact that the artist is enable to create the most attractive artistic works with the most accessible natural substance that is soil.

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