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Nicaraguan ceramics

Caritas sells Nicaraguan pottery pieces to support ceramic artists from San Juan de Oriente and to raise money for relief work. You can view the pottery pieces at Caritas office (Kuusitie 6, Helsinki) or inquire about them by email or phone. 

Ceramics of San Juan de Oriente


Ceramic art is alive and flourishing in the small village of San Juan de Oriente in Nicaragua in the Middle America. It is deeply rooted in the country’s history and in the time before the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century. Thanks to their vibrant language, the works of the Nicaraguan ceramists have conquered American galleries and hearts of European museum audience. 


The Nicaraguan ceramics with glamorous metal oxide decoration were among the most valued objects during the Pre-Columbian era. They were used in religious ceremonies and that is why the pieces of ceramics were decorated uniformly, also where the human eye could not see. The Spanish conquerors considered the ceremonial objects as pagan and their production was banned. For centuries clay was used only for making everyday objects and in 1970s plastic replaced ceramics as a material. 

To ease the distress of ceramists, a training center was established in San Juan de Oriente and its purpose was to teach traditional, yet professional ceramic making and decoration. Today 95% of the people living in the village earn their living at least partly from ceramics. Over the centuries the working methods have hardly changed and through multiple phases of work the rough red clay is turned into ceramics with silky smooth and decorated surface. The works are unique and their distinctive identity connects them to this one particular village in the world.


In San Juan de Oriente the most appreciated style is pre-columbino, the inspiration of which comes from old Pre-Columbian works. The Creation libre style was born as late as in the mid-1990s and its decoration is either verdant as Nicaraguan nature or simplified geometric. 

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