Since pre-Columbian times, the pottery of this village has been lightly burnished for style and made black by reduction firing. But some 30 years ago, the pottery of Coyotepec began to undergo a dramatic change. It was found that if the pot was very finely stone polished and fired with less wood at a lower temperature, it would turn black and shiny. The drawback is that when the pottery is fired at such low temperatures it is very weak, and breaks in contact with water. This defect is ironic because traditionally, pottery of Coyotepec was specifically made to hold water and mescal (water with "fire" in it) and, indeed, was the very best of the Oaxacan potteries for the purpose. Locals had no use for these changes, but it was soon found that such pots sold well to tourists who were becoming a lucrative market. And so, Coyotepec's pottery became known world wide for its refined, shiny finish, if not for its water tightness.
As suckers for old (very old) fashioned quality, the pottery offered by Manos de Oaxaca is made by one of the last traditional potters in Coyotepec. It is ancient and sturdy, solid, with the texture of working pottery, and is absolutly appropriate for use with water (or mescal).
The pots have the beauty created in the evolution of functional forms. Pieces include jugs made for mescal storage, strainers for washing corn kernels for tortillas, and pots made with extra handles for use as back country canteens.
Copyright © 1995-2001 Tony and Eric Mindling