Today’s Ceramics: current productions and past memories
The city of Grottaglie is located in Puglia, about twenty kilometers from Taranto, and is part of the Italian City of Ceramics Association, a network of 36 Italian municipalities characterized by an ancient ceramic tradition and marked by the CAT (TRADITIONAL ARTISTIC CERAMICS) brand. The numerous artisan production workshops of Grottaglie are located in the Ceramics District, close to the historic center of the city. The oldest shops are dug into the limestone and retain the ancient cooking furnaces, also built by hand; large tanks for decanting clay; large courtyards with irregular stone-clad floors, large vaulted rooms, terraces and hanging gardens, but also ancient underground oil mills, cisterns and caves.
The Grottaglie Ceramics District holds practically the entire history of its handicraft production, in many cases retains the appearance of the past and fascinates tourists from all over the world. Today, ceramics are mainly produced for interior, exterior and table furnishings. The preparation of clay and colors uses modern technology, but some phases of the work such as modeling and decoration still require the intervention of the master ceramist and his technical experience.
Traditional objects that embody ancient local legends
The Pupe di Grottaglie are anthropomorphic bottles that embody the legend of the ius primae noctis. According to this custom, all the young brides of the town were forced to spend the first wedding night with the governing prince. It is said that a peasant, prey to the idea that his wife should also suffer this outrage, decided to take revenge by killing the evil prince: he disguised himself as a woman and went to the castle for the appointment, but in his haste he forgot to cut his mustache!
He was discovered and laughed at by the prince who wanted to condemn him to death but to further humiliate him instead forced him to give up all the wine he had! The farmer therefore had a considerable number of bottles made to contain his wine, bottles that had the appearance of a pupa with a mustache!
The baroque court on the dresser
The Knights, with their rich Baroque costumes and horses with opulent harnesses, evoke the ancient Spanish dominations in the land of Puglia. They are an exclusive production of Grottaglie and are configured as authentic pieces of art: the careful modeling of the decorative details make them prestigious ornamental ornaments for the interiors, which can also become candlesticks or ceramic lamp bases to be associated with large lampshades in fabric.
I Pumi: amulets for good luck that become valuable decorative objects
a bud with three leaves, symbol of spring and the rebirth of nature, the bearer of new vital energy. A lucky charm that was historically born from the hands of the ceramic masters of Grottaglie and conquers the Italian and international public with its Arabic shape and its magnetic colors. Elegant decorative accessories with a strong symbolic and apotropaic meaning, authentic amulets for good luck, ideal for enriching all corners of the house with personality.
Pine cones: from the cosmic egg to the materialization of the soul
The ceramic pine cone embodies the meaning of fertility, longevity and eternity, but also of a cosmic egg linked to the birth of creation, the principle of all creation. Therefore, this symbol has always enriched the entrance gates of ancient villas and gardens, monumental cemeteries, facades of churches and convents, thrones of kings and popes as a materialization of the soul, the bridge that unites the earth with the divine.
These meanings materialize in the hands of skilled ceramic artisans who make large and small pine cones. Starting from the lathe, the ceramist first shapes the base cap, then the support foot, which will be joined later. The craftsman shapes the seeds of the pine cone one at a time, using only his fingers and attaching them to the base cap with liquid clay.
The artistic lamps: magical geometries of light
The production of interior lighting products is quite recent and highly appreciated. Table lamps, desk lamps, bedside lamps and candle holders are the result of great technical mastery because they are modeled by hand starting from the lathe and subsequently finished with the fretwork technique.
This technique consists of carving the surface of the object in raw clay when it is in an intermediate stage of drying, the stage called “leather hardness”: with the help of a scalpel the craftsman carves flowers, leaves, drops and patterns geometric, until you get small masterpieces of art that once turned on create magical plays of light.
The Cockerel: a symbol deeply rooted in the Apulian artisan culture
The Cockerel represents the typical decoration of Apulian folk art, accompanied by the rim of the plate decorated with a brown line and a blue five-petal flower. Associated with the symbol of dawn and awakening, the Cockerel is an emblem of protection from the evil one and good health. Messenger of the sun following darkness, the Rooster also represents spiritual rebirth and the triumph of truth over lies. It recurs on all tableware and makes the image of Puglia recognizable all over the world.
Plates, jugs, bowls, salad bowls and glasses are coated with white or ivory enamel and decorated with the classic central rooster in a rampant pose, the crest and the fluffy plumage. The color palette with which it is painted is made of bright colors such as cobalt blue, copper green, deep orange and manganese brown.