ABOUT THE BLACK POTTERY OF BISALHAES
The work of the clay is a secular tradition in Portugal as it is in many other countries. Here it has remained very alive in all regions, but in the North of Portugal, the black pottery of Bisalhães is in the process of disappearing.
An ancestral technique.
For 5 centuries, the manufacturing methods have remained the same and the pieces made remain unchanged. They start with a tedious and exhausting work of crushing the clay then of slow humidification in order to obtain a malleable paste. The shaping is always done with a manual wheel. It is the firing of the pieces that will give them their singularity: The pieces are fired in ovens dug into the earth where pine needles, wood and vegetation waste are burned and are drowned in the black earth that will give them their final color.
Protected by UNESCO
The black potteries of Bisalhães are unique in the world, they exist for more than 5 centuries and yet they are disappearing. UNESCO has become aware of this and has just registered their manufacturing process on the list of world heritage to be preserved urgently.
A hope of revival.
The inscription of this technique in the world heritage of UNESCO and the interest of some artists and decorators will perhaps save it. In collaboration with a young designer, black earthenware offal will soon join one of Lisbon's fashionable restaurants. Some pieces have been adapted at the request of a Japanese importer who will resell them at a high price... The beginning of a renaissance?