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Published on July 15th, 2016 | by admin

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The pot people: Chorotega traditions live on in Guanacaste’s Guaitil

BY THOMAS ENDERLIN

Tucked away in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, Guaitil is a small indigenous community that continues the Chorotega tribe’s pre-Columbian tradition of artisanal pottery. Plates, pots, dishes and more are made with locally sourced materials, thrown by hand and adorned with mineral-based glazes and paints. The works are then finished in wood-burning kilns, as they have been for generations.

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This pottery consists of a special mixture of clay and iguana sand, or the sand where iguanas are known to lay their eggs. Color also plays a significant role in the designs as only black, white and brown paint or combinations of these were used by the Chorotega (though some of today’s modern artists are integrating other colors as well).

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Most workshops are family run, like Artesanía las Tinajitas. Operated by Elma Grijalba and her siblings, this workshop strictly maintains pre-Columbian traditions. Many other workshops surround the tree-lined village square, like Mono Congo Loco run by Leal Vega and his family. Leal and other artisans hand paint as many as 30 pieces per day, with depictions of monkeys, toucans, reptiles, flowers and more. A true labor of love, Chorotega pottery is sold locally or distributed to art and souvenir stores throughout the country.


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