A Cultural Perspective on Ceramics essay

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Ceramics and are products made from clay as the main raw material. The ceramic products include table ware and tiles. Traditionally most ceramics were found in most part of Africa, Europe and Asian countries. In Africa, clay was used as a raw material in making the traditional pot. Clay among other raw materials were mixed well then molded and put in a furnace to yield a pot as the final product. Similarly in Asia and other traditional ceramics were done in the same way.

Historically emphasis was laid on the shape of the objects and their decoration. The pots believed to have been the first were coiled then molded to make smooth surfaces. The style of coiling was first introduced in Mesopotamia in 4th BC then spread to other parts of the world mostly Africa and Asia. Decoration aspect was found to geometric though it also contained some irregular figures in the design mostly from the earlier pots.

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The archaeologist of the prehistoric cultures found several distinctive potteries such as linear pottery culture among others. Linear pottery culture is a major archaeological site in the Europe. It was found to be existence in between 5500-4500 BC (Williams, 2007). It was believed to be in existence during the agrarian revolution time. Common products were cups, bowls and jugs without handles. They were mainly designed for kitchen and for local carriage of food and liquids. The archaeologists found that pottery found its way to most part of Europe and especially the coastal lines of Europe. This evident in the coastal part Germany, Poland and Netherlands.

Linear Pottery Culture is found to have evolved through several phases. The earliest was the western pottery culture which begun conventionally at 5500BC. The number of local styles was defined. The music-Note Pottery came and later, stroked pottery culture. The Eastern pottery culture developed in eastern Hungary during the time when animal husbandry started.  In Africa, pots were traditionally coiled and burn at low temperatures. The Nok culture used to make high quality pots though its functions are not clearly known, it is evident in most parts of Africa for example Kenya and Nigeria, Nock is the archaeological site in Nigeria (Hopper 2000).

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Ladi Kwali, a distinct potter from Nigeria, was born in the village of Kwali in the Northern Nigeria in the year 1925. She learned pottery as a child where pottery was common occupation among traditional African society. She was known for making large pots used as water jars and cooking pots from coils of clay. The pots were decorated systematic geometric and styled figured patterns. As a tradition in Africa, they were fired in a bonfire of dry vegetables.

Her pots were known for its beautiful decorations and Most of her skills were acquired in Abuja. She joined Cardew's pottery training centre in Abuja where she learned to throw pots on the wheel. She made dishes, bowls and beakers using her traditional and building techniques using then fired in a high temperature kiln therefore making her products a hybrid of the modern and traditional African pottery.

Ladi work gained popularity across Europe and America in the late 1950s, she known to most famous in London at the Berkeley Galleries. She was Nigeria's best known potter and was recognized by renaming Abuja pottery as Ladi Kwali Pottery and a Ladi kwali street in Abuja named her.

Bernard Leach is another famous artiste in pottery. He born I n Hong Kong and grew up in the Far East. In his youthful life, he studied in London School of Art before settling in Japan where he committed himself to pottery and studied under the great master Kenzan. He started Leach pottery at St. Lves, Cornwall in 1920, including the construction of a traditional Japanese wood kiln. He combined the western and the eastern philosophies. He focused most in the Korean, Japanese and Chinese pottery in combination with the traditional techniques from England and Germany. However the western did not recognize his work and considered it crude and substandard.

Leach was advocating for simple and utilitarian forms. His ethics post seems to be on the opposite on what he called fine art. His lifestyle was seen to be counter culture and modern design in Northern America during the 1950s. He was instrumental in organizing international conference of potters and weavers at Darting hall where he was the teacher and also working (Hopper, 2000). He worked mostly in his career writing about pottery.

Generally ceramics was done traditionally with some passion. Decoration and molding are the major operations done to the ceramics all over the world. Some decorations are geometric while others are figurative. Their beautiful appearance gained some attention from some powerful emperor's then. Chinese emperors gave ceramics as diplomatic gifts on lavish scale while the Roman Empire valued molded pottery among Gold and silver.

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