Pottery and ceramics are closely tied to Lanzarote’s cultural heritage, and choosing beautiful ceramics for your home can be one of the most rewarding activities on Lanzarote.
In the year 2000, two years after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Portuguese author José Saramago, who now lived on Lanzarote, published his novel The Cave.
The main character of the story is a potter, Cipriano Algor, who makes figures that are sold to a nearby shopping centre which slowly takes over his life and that of his family. However, the inspiration behind the pottery figures were the works of Doña Dorotea de Armas, which Saramago had discovered on the island where he spent the final years of his life.
Born in 1899, Doña Dorotea learnt pottery from her mother, and practiced it throughout her long life. Among her works are fascinating models of animals and the famous Novios del Mojón, figures of a man and a woman with exaggerated sexual organs that are believed to derive from the original natives of Lanzarote.
The Monumento del Campesino in San Bartolomé contains a large collection of native Lanzarote pottery, much of it created by the historian Juan Brito, who became a disciple of Doña Dorotea in an attempt to continue her tradition. You can also see a large collection of native ceramics at César Manrique’s house in Haría.
Fragments of pottery at ancient archaeological sites show that pottery has been a tradition on Lanzarote for many hundreds of years, and it remains an important element of the island’s craft scene to this day.
Nowadays, ceramicists do not have to rely on the somewhat heavy red clay that native potters excavated on the Famara clifftops, and most ceramic items are imported from overseas.
Perhaps the most important role of ceramics in Lanzarote homes is as tiles. Tough, easy to clean and cool to the touch, ceramic tiles cover most floors and many kitchens and bathrooms. They’re also a popular decorative choice outdoors, and Lanzarote is no stranger to the decorative traditions of Portuguese wall tiles, while hundreds of swimming pools have also been decorated with tiles.
Then there is the huge range of ceramic plant containers that can be found in local shops and garden centres. The classic terracotta pot remains popular, but for a little extra money you can really make a statement both indoors and outdoors.
In design shops you’ll find a huge selection of ceramic vases that are the ideal decoration for your indoor space. On Lanzarote, the minimalist trend is very much in fashion, and simple statement items with sparse, elegant flowers or branches are a real winner.
But to really get the idea of the full range of what’s available, head to Teguise Market on a Sunday, or the craft fair in Haría on Saturdays, where you’ll find ceramic artists offering beautiful, original and unique items, often at attractive prices.
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