There is a place in the far south of Mexico where the potters of a thousand years still work.

he place is Oaxaca (wah-HA-ka), a wrinkled land of misted forest mountains and hot cactus valleys. The potters are Zapotecs, Mixes (ME-hays), Mixtecs (ME-tex), and Triques (TREE-kays). Their work is the humble creation of a jug for carrying water, a pot for cooking beans, a bowl for storing corn.
rom clay, fire, and hands full of knowledge passed from mother to daughter in an unbroken lineage that fades into the days of another age comes to life the pot. It is formed without a wheel and shaped with simple tools: a piece of gourd, a strip of leather, and the deep experience of patient time. It is warmed in the morning sun and fired in an open bonfire. What emerges from the flame is the creation of simple perfection and grace, the work of masters.
n the waning days of this century the pottery of Oaxaca is disappearing. Tin, plastic, and aluminum are impatiently filling the place of clay. Today the potters still work, the pottery lives. But the question arises, how many more mothers will be able to pass the ways of clay, fire, and hands down to their daughters?

Copyright © 1995-2008 Tony and Eric Mindling