San Bartolo Coyotepec is located approximately 6 kilometers south from Oaxaca city by highway that heads to Puerto Angel. A walk through this small town of adobe houses and still atmosphere of Mexican countryside discovers the true identity of the place: The black pottery.
The process begins on the small hills situated in the east of the town, at the mines of clay where collectors have to dig and then go down the pits to extract the clay which can not be collected from the surface. During the rainy season this job is very dangerous because of the humid soil that could indeed bury the collectors. Then the clay is put into bags which weights about thirty kilograms and brought to workshops of town. The clay is cleaned and watered. After that the artisans mix it until it becomes manageable and start sculpting different pots and figures. The items are put into an open fire oven and are carefully watched on until the pieces are perfectly cooked. Finally, the artisan rub strongly the figures with a rag. This last step is the secret which gives the particular shinning to theses black sculptures.
Local people believe that the clay has to be extracted only by men; if women do it, the mines will run out of clay. Some time ago, a woman used to extract the clay from the nearby hills as her job. She rapidly was asked to quit by the local mayor in order to keep the source of clay.
Artisans have mastered at sculpting virgins, women, pots, crosses, candelabra, skulls, dogs, eclipses, bulls, and many beautiful black figures with amazing shine.
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