If you happen to be passing by Horezu, Romania and you want to find and buy authentic pottery of Horezu, make sure to stop in Olari village (2km from Horezu).
This is a place of relaxation and discovery of Romanian identity. A big part of Romanian cultural values and traditions are found in this side of the country. You can easily identify a pottery workshop by the plates decorating the exterior walls of the house.
Throughout the centuries, the craft of pottery was passed on from one generation to another by the families of ceramists who managed to keep it alive in the village hearth, now known as "Olari Street".
There are eighteen ceramic workshops where the craftsmen, with the same incomparable craftsmanship as their ancestors, shape the clay.
From digging it straight out of the heart of the Earth and up to becoming a beautiful piece of pottery, the clay goes through the hands of every member of the family.
The man works the clay and shapes it into pots and vases, the woman is decorating it by carefully blowing the colors though a hollowed cow’s horn, the children “steal” the craftsmanship by helping and laying the pottery in the oven and grandpa, being older and thus most patient, guards the fire in the oven.
But well beyond this rigor of craftsmanship, a mystery of this century old art is emerging: at his wheel, the potter is almighty, in his hands the clay receives shape, sense and soul. Maybe this is why in popular belief people say that God created man at the potter’s wheel.
This strong Christian and agricultural heritage is visible in the symbols of Horezu pottery decoration. Since Romanian pottery historically played a role in life changing ceremonies such as weddings, birth or funerals, the symbols are reflecting the role of the object.
The most popular motif is the Horezu Rooster, a symbol of immortality and victory of light versus darkness.
Christian symbols, such as the cross, the snake, the vine, and the star adorn the daily use pottery such as the dishes. These are meant to be protected from bad spirits and illnesses. There is also a strong belief that food tastes better in clay dishes.
Concentric circles, as well as grapes, leaves, clover, and wheat reflect the importance of agriculture in the region. On the pottery used as wedding gifts or home decoration one can find symbols of fertility and prosperity.
For centuries, Romanian traditional art of pottery has adorned the soul. Romanians believe that before you hold in your hands a pot made of clay you cannot understand the connection with the Earth, nor know the thrill of being and the mystery of shaping an object from the same thing we were shaped of: dust.
So if you happen to be passing by…