Can anyone identify this ethnic pottery type?
February 27, 2015 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone help identify the region/period of origin of these two pots?

They appear to me to be some form of terracotta which has been burnished rather than glazed. The surfaces have been engraved with bands of leaf and flower decoration which has been inlaid with a silvery metal? The rounded base of the larger one suggests India or Africa to me but all attempts at googling have so far defeated me. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
posted by Petromyzon to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
From a professional potter friend:

"Gut reaction is Iranian. It is a red terra sig fired and scratched through many cultures have done this. The design is pretty generic and most likely modern tourist trap pottery. From a clay rich country, anything around the the middle east to southern europe."
posted by JimBJ9 at 6:23 AM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

"terra sig" is short for Terra Sigillata,an ancient technique common across many early cultures, where the same clay used to make the pot is greatly diluted and allowed to settle, and the potter uses a thin suspension of fine clay particles instead of a glaze. Any liquid clay is called a slip, but in this technique because the same clay is used without additional colorants, the terra sig always "fits" the pot - it doesn't craze or flake off. The terra sig is brushed onto dried but unfired pots and thus only one firing is needed. It is often polished to a soft sheen and sometimes designs can be scratched through, as was done here. That technique is called "scraffito". Pots fired in this manner are always low-fire earthenware, and the terra sig is not waterproof. Liquid would slowly leak through the pot, unless an actual glaze was applied to the inner surface. Even if these are tourist ware, I think they are lovely, with the wonderful provenance of a local clay that comes from a specific place.
posted by citygirl at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

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