The Origin of Black Clay: Guatajiagua, El Salvador

Guatajiagua is a municipality in the department of Morazan, El Salvador where black clay pottery is different forms is born to stay alive for generations, an ancestral art inherited from the Lenca tribu. 

Surrounded by mountains, valleys, and abundant nature lies the peaceful municipality of Guatajiagua, 148 kilometers from San Salvador, which proudly guards the secrets of Lenca pottery. Unlike other places like Santo Domingo de Guzmán in Sonsonate and Quezaltepeque, in La Libertad whose pottery is made of red clay, in Guatajiagua black clay is the protagonist of this ancestral art.

According to statistics from the house of culture of this town, there are more than 300 artisans and 99% are women over 25 years of age, who have the trade of potters in common. The entire Lenca community works clay, so It is not uncommon to find an infinity of pieces passing through the corridors of the houses that remain all day in the sun in order to achieve uniform drying.

Nowadays, multiple pieces are made by different artisans, pieces for everyday use at home, including pots, candle holders, teapots and griddles for tortillas. With very rustic styles and unique features of the residents of the municipality.

A more artistic representation using black clay is the "Tlameme". Thamemeh is a word that comes from the Nahuatl tlamama, meaning load. The porters carried loads on their backs (which could be people, taxes, or items for trade).
Like all other objects using this material, they are made from clay with pigmentation obtained with the substance of the Nacazcol fruit.

Guatajiagua is a small town that keeps transcending through time into new generations, keeping the Salvadoran traditions and culture alive thanks to all new artisans carrying the identity of El Salvador.

Visit Guatajiagua, in Morazan, El Salvador: Learn more about Black Clay

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