Monday, August 31, 2009

Chorotega Guaitil pottery

This Guaitil artisan is painting a vase. The workshops where the pottery is made are open air, with the pottery being shaped, being fired in traditional wood burning adobe ovens, and being painted in plain view of tourists who walk from shop to shop.

A visit to Guaitil is often combined with a wildlife boat trip of Palo Verde National Park. Tour operators who pick up tourists in Tamarindo to take them on a wildlife boat trip will usually stop for a traditional lunch in a nearby village, and then stop in Guaitil on the drive back to Tamarindo.

The popularity of Chorotega pottery has led to a rekindling of cultural awareness and pride in pre-Columbian culture among people in Guaitil and nearby villages.

There is surprisingly little pre-Columbian culture in Costa Rica. Tragically, the indigenous population of Costa Rica was nearly eliminated after Spanish settlement of the area. The introduction of diseases from Europe for which the local population did not have immunity was a major cause. But another cause was the enslavement of Costa Ricans to use them to work the mines in Peru and Mexico. Costa Rica was not a rich area (contrary to its name, which means "rich coast"). The Spanish used some of the local population to supply badly needed labor to work the mines elsewhere. The devastation of the indigenous population was so extensive that it has been estimated that despite large immigration, it was not until the 1930's that the population of Costa Rica recovered to reach the same number than lived in the country when Columbus arrived on his fourth voyage.

The vast majority of Costa Ricans ethnically are white, of European descent, because the indigenous population was almost totally wiped out. Estimates are that of the present population of 4 million, only 150,000 Costa Ricans are indigenous. The Guanacaste region of northwest Costa Rica, where Tamarindo is located, is the part of the country that has the greatest surviving remnants of indigenous heritage, although it is not prevalent.

5 comments:

brattcat said...

Beautiful shot, excellent commentary. Is the butterfly motif this artist's particular theme or a more general theme in this pottery? What are the plastic bags poked into the 'chicken wired tree' used for?

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Brattcat,
The butterfly motif has is popularly used today on Guaitil pottery. I will show an example in a couple of days.

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Brattcat,
Sirry, but I forgot to respond to your second question about the plastic. I am not sure, but I expect that the plastic bags are used for customers' purchases. I think that the green plastic is used to cover up something, maybe clay, to keep it moist.

Sharon said...

Interesting history. It so good to see this craft preserved.

Abraham Lincoln said...

The work they do in public probably helps their sales I would guess. I know it used to be that way, ages ago, in art.

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