Puglian Pottery

Some ceramic pots await the kiln outside an artisan pottery in Puglia… This is a scene that an inhabitant from 2,000 years ago would readily recognise as a symbol of her homeland…

some crockery arranged on the street in a typical italian artisan shop
some crockery arranged on the street in a typical italian artisan shop

The region of Puglia has been famed for its ceramics since the days of the Ancient Greeks – ie, some time before the Ancient Romans! The Greeks prized the clay of the region and knew that its pottery, well-made, often by skilled Greek immigrants, would command good prices throughout the Mediterranean – and indeed beyond (pieces have appeared in Cornwall, for example, where they would have been traded for tin). The pottery of Taras (now known as Taranto) was the best-known, but perhaps mainly because this was the chief port; the industry spread well into the hinterland as the reputation of Puglian pottery spread. Today, tourists buy ceramics in Grottaglie, though most of the purchases nowadays are of ornamental ceramics rather than practical homeware. Pottery as a major industry is no more. Not in Puglia. Not anywhere. We’ve got plastic for that now. Yet one can’t help wondering if our Puglian inhabitant from 2,000 years ago, were she invited to a tupperware party today, would ask herself whether, aesthetically at least, we had really advanced in any meaningful way.


Image © iStock