The Tibetan Nixi potters of the Nixi Pottery Village, Shangri-La, Yunnan Province in China spent an afternoon on July 9, 2014 with Navajo Potter Christine McHorse at the home of CFile director Garth Clark and his partner Mark Del Vecchio. McHorse also works with black and so the meeting was an exciting exchange of like minds.
Their visit was organized by internationally-known New York City potter Kathy Erteman. In 2007 Aid to Artisans (ATA) called Erteman and asked her to go to China to work with the Nixi Tibetan potters in an effort to preserve a 1,200-year-old Tibetan cultural tradition, the Nixi black pottery. Her involvement has continued ever since with several tours and exhibitions in the US. This has had significant effect, new designs are being made and for a time a woman was added to the potters’ ranks.
Nixi Black Pottery has been made for more than a thousand years and is used in Tibetan daily life, primarily for cooking, religious ceremonies, or as small space heaters. It is made with two different clays: brown clay and white clay, one is smooth and the other is rough. They are mixed together and fired at a low temperature. The potters decorate the pieces with carvings or shards of of glazed porcelain from discarded tea cups and broken rice bowls that they whittled into shape and inlay. Before firing, the clay is brown and after reduction firing the pottery turns black with white designs.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
Featured image: Garth Clark and Christine McHorse.
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