Painting of the Week: “Costarican pots with shells”

costa rica expertA note from the Publisher: The Costa Rica Blog Network has chosen to feature the following article for its artistic take on raising awareness and its recognition that “the maintaining of the Chorotega identity and their unique way of life are dependent on securing a reliable source of clay for the community.” Thanks to Suzanne for submitting her personal account to us. We hope that the communities of Guaitil and San Vicente de Nicoya soon secure access to the land they need in order to continue producing such beautiful and prideful works of art. Pura vida!

Featured Author: Suzanne Belair (visit the Enviroart by Suzanne Belair Blog)

The Costa Rican culture reflects in several ways, its racial diversity. The most important influence is European as one can see in the official language which is Spanish. This is also reflected in the historical architecture and buildings. The indigenous influence, even if less visible now, is perceived all the same on all levels, like tortillas that are part of a typical Costa Rican meal or the hand made ceramics, which are sold by the roadside.


These potteries were fabricated by hand by Santiago Villafuerte and his wife Maria Elena. I took the liberty of making the potteries brighter and more colorful than they actually are. Because of the color of the clay, the colors usually depicted are limited to beige, browns, black and dark red, earth colors. The couple lives in Guaitil the small village renowned for its potteries made the traditional way of the Chrorotega Indians. Santiago learned how to make pottery of his parents and his grandparents and now teaches the trade with his nephews and children at the local elementary school.

The communities of Guaitil and San Vicente are committed to preserving the Chorotega culture which consists in making these potteries according to the same methods used by their ancestors. Most of the villagers’ income comes from the sale of these potteries to tourists and the area hotels.

Unfortunately, clay has now become rare and difficult to find. According to the potters, this quality of clay does not exist anywhere in the world except on a private piece of land located in San Vincente, approximately 2 km from Guaitil.

For almost 10 years now, the artisans have been negotiating with the owners of the land, who seem ready to sell it but will not let them use part of it for free, or purchase only a portion of it either. The potters only want to use about one fifth of the total area that the family wants to sell and cannot get enough money to purchase the whole lot. There is fear that if they cannot secure that land the next generation will have to go and live in San Jose to make pottery.

The shortage has become a serious problem. The maintaining of the Chorotega identity and their unique way of life are dependent on securing a reliable source of clay for the community.

Click here to read the above post on the Enviroart by Suzanne Belair Blog

About Suzanne:

Artist, biologist, environmentalist, ex-business woman, mother of three wonders, friend, conflicted, constantly curious and learning.

Post photos are owned by the featured author (not the Costa Rica Blog Network). Please contact the featured author directly for permission of use.

Pura vida!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. OwlMcCloud says:

    Great post and blog.

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