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Bertan > Bertan 19 Zeramika herrikoia Gipuzkoan > Ingeles bertsioa: Introduction
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Sarrera

28. Liquor bottle.© Jose López
28. Liquor bottle.© Jose López

According to information at our disposal, a pottery was set up at the Jausoro farmstead in Azkoitia in 1757. The potter, Juan Quende, was from Lizarra (Navarre), where there had been an important ceramics industry since at least the thirteenth century.

In Gipuzkoa, as in other parts of the Basque Country, the local people had something of an aversion to clay-working.

In 1754 Father M. Larramendi in his Corografía de Guipuzcoa, wrote:

Gipuzkoa, which is more rational and politic than Lacedemonia in this regard and others, uses local people, all of noble blood, for the humbler trades: shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, carpenters, quarrymen, hat-makers, etcetera. For none of these trades do they import people from outside. I have noticed only that the tile-makers1 are commonly French Basques. I do not know why the Gipuzkoans do not take up this trade, when they are willing enough to devote themselves to other humbler and more mechanical crafts.

29. Jug.© Jose López
29. Jug.© Jose López

Telesforo Aranzadi and Jose Miguel Barandiaran also noted this dislike of pottery work.

30. Measuring cups.© Jose López
30. Measuring cups.© Jose López

In his Etnografía Vasca-Geografía General del País Vasco Navarro, Aranzadi wrote:

There was a time when all the potters in the towns of Gipuzkoa were French. This, together with the Basque's love of wood carving and his proverbial skill as a quarryman and a ironsmith, makes it reasonable to presume that it does not come from people who have been trained in countries which are poor in these materials and who for that reason have devoted themselves to pottery.

Jose Miguel de Barandiaran in "Vasconia Antigua" (Volume IX of his complete works) says: ... in Busturia, about one kilometre as the crow flies on the other side of the Gernika estuary, there is a tile-maker's which employs Asturian workers, since the trade is not popular among the local people.

31. Butter jar.© Jose López
31. Butter jar.© Jose López

From Alava we have evidence that some potters presenting themselves for their military service preferred to give their civilian trade as farm labourers.

Julio Caro Baroja supports Aranzadi's thesis, saying that wood and iron are the two main elements of Basque material culture, and that unlike other areas of the Iberian peninsula, pottery rarely played more than a token role. However, research into the Basque pottery industry carried out since Caro Baroja's time suggests that there were over a hundred kilns, some in very long-standing potteries, and it is clear that they must have had a considerable output.

32. Cider jug.© Jose López
32. Cider jug.© Jose López

Asturian tile-makers appear to have worked throughout the Basque Country. They would arrive in or around St. Isidro's Day at the beginning of May, and remain here making roof tiles, until the inclement weather set in the autumn.

From a very early stage, these Asturian tile-makers or "Tamargos", who came mostly from Llanes and Ribadesella, developed their own argot -xiriga- containing some words taken from Basque. Our friend Jose Manuel Feito, an untiring researcher into all aspects of Asturian culture, says that the Tamargos were

transhumant workers who travelled throughout the province and outside it from May until Michaelmas" and that their particular cant was a combination or metathesis of words of obscure origin and words taken from Basque...

Feito has compiled a short dictionary of terms, and although in some cases the meaning has changed, and in others the spelling is different, the influence of Basque can clearly be seen in words like: agun=day [egun in Basque]; bai=yes [bai in basque]; esñia=milk [esne in basque]; ez=no [ez in basque]; gaza=salt [gatz in basque]; iria=cow [iria]; motil=boy [mutil in basque]; oguin=bread [ogi in basque]; xagarda=apple [sagar]; xagardua [sagardo]=cider and zarro=old [zahar in basque].

33. Jug decorated in green.© Jose López
33. Jug decorated in green.© Jose López
34. Casserole and stewpots for cooking on an open fire.© Jose López
34. Casserole and stewpots for cooking on an open fire.© Jose López
35. Plates and  katilu  (wide cup).© Jose López
35. Plates and katilu (wide cup).© Jose López
36. Pots. © Jose López
36. Pots. © Jose López
37. Small lamp found in La Concha Bay, San Sebastian.© Jose López
37. Small lamp found in La Concha Bay, San Sebastian.© Jose López

For their part, French potters were to be found in the pottery town of Galarreta (Alava) in the eighteenth century. Specifically, Juan Boie, originally from "Besenfontunie" in the "Kingdom of France", was married to Rosa Ibañez de Garaio, from Amarita. One of their sons, Joseph, had been born in Zumárraga in 1769, and it was he who first moved to Galarreta, where his father followed some years later. It is possible that they had been working in some pottery in Zumárraga or Tolosa.



38. Fragments of earthenware vessels found in La Concha Bay, San Sebastian: probably made in Muel, Aragon. 16th century.© Jose López
38. Fragments of earthenware vessels found in La Concha Bay, San Sebastian: probably made in Muel, Aragon. 16th century.© Jose López

Joseph married María Saez, from "Aro" [Haro] and might possibly have been working in the town, which had a very important ceramics industry, before he came to Galarreta. Around 1800, the family moved to Narbaxa, an important pottery centre in Alava, where Joseph died on 16 April 1849.

39. Small lamp found in the Bay.© Jose López
39. Small lamp found in the Bay.© Jose López

In 1756 the "Corregidor", Pedro Cano Mucientes wrote:

I have noted three major mistakes: first, that, although an uncountable number of clay vessels are used in homes, not a single piece is manufactured here. It all comes from Alava or Castile. What is also surprising is that the varnish comes from Segura, in this province.

And referring to the French origin of the tile-makers, he says:

I have seen from experience that Gipuzkoa lacks tiles and bricks for so many factories, because they must wait for the French tile-maker to come when it best suits him.

40. Cup found in La Concha Bay.© Jose López
40. Cup found in La Concha Bay.© Jose López

Castilian ware came either from Talavera de la Reina-which had an excellent reputation at that time-or from other potteries in the kingdom, whose products were also known as "Talavera Ceramics". The name became generic for a certain type of ceramics, and was even used for pieces made overseas, as we can see from the records of the pottery attached to the Poor House in Bilbao (1776-1881) which traded in ceramics from England, which was known as "English Talavera".

41. Earthenware vessel made in Bearn  and used in Hondarribia.© Jose López
41. Earthenware vessel made in Bearn and used in Hondarribia.© Jose López

Most of the Alavese vessels imported to Gipuzkoa almost certainly came from potteries in the towns of Igeleta, Ixona and Erentxun, and also very probably from the potteries of Vitoria (Gasteiz). Unfortunately, although the existence of potteries in the city is well documented, no pieces have been positively identified as coming from there.

Joaquin Joseph de Landazuri (1789) wrote:

Alava has a fair number of most useful earthenware manufacturers. There are some in the city of Vitoria and in the towns of Eguileta, Ijona, Herenchun and Ullibarri de los Olleros... Innumerable plates, pots, cups and other vessels are made, and are used not only by local people, but also by others a great distance away [...] Alavese earthenware is varnished in white and decorated with blue flowers...

Although blue was the colour most commonly used to decorate the enamel [or tin-glaze]2, devices in green, green and brown, and even blue and green can also be seen on the numerous shards of pottery found on the probable sites of the kilns in the land around these towns.

42. Small jug found during excavations of the whaling ship San Juan, from Pasaia, which sank near Saddle Island in Red Bay, Labrador (Canada) in 1565. It is similar to those made in Ixona, Igeleta and Erentxun.© Xabi Otero
42. Small jug found during excavations of the whaling ship San Juan, from Pasaia, which sank near Saddle Island in Red Bay, Labrador (Canada) in 1565. It is similar to those made in Ixona, Igeleta and Erentxun.© Xabi Otero

This type of vessel can be found in many parts of the Basque Country, and the decorations can be seen on many remains found near farmhouses.

Some years ago we saw some pieces which had been recovered from the sea bed in the Concha Bay in San Sebastian by Manuel Izagirre, and judging from their shape and design we believe they came from the towns mentioned by Landazuri.

The output of Juan Quende's pottery, which was already in existence in 1757, and perhaps from some other, as yet undiscovered, potteries, would not appear to have been enough to meet local demand. In 1770, the "Friends of the Country" [a society of benefactors inspired by enlightenment ideas] discussed the best way of promoting potteries and tile-makers' workshops. According to their report:

For the establishment of the potteries, the Provincial Government should have the land surveyed by an intelligent person, satisfying to it, and should then make the necessary rulings regarding the running of the potteries, in order to rid local people of the commonly-held notion that such work is unworthy of noble folk; making them understand that in taking up such trades they are in no way diminishing their chances of being admitted to honorific title. Measures to encourage the people of Gipuzkoa to produce roof tiles and bricks [...] might include giving preference in the leases to local people, who are just as skilled as foreigners...

Their advice appears to have served its purpose, as a number of potteries sprang up in various towns in Gipuzkoa. These workshops produced ware that was similar to that of Alava and Bizkaia: glazed and enamelled pieces, of which the oldest were profusely decorated using copper oxide for greens and manganese for brown.

43. Earthenware vessel found in La Concha Bay.© Jose López
43. Earthenware vessel found in La Concha Bay.© Jose López
44. Earthenware vessels made in Ixona.© Jose López
44. Earthenware vessels made in Ixona.© Jose López
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