Paraguay is a country rich in natural resources with a significant number of artisans dedicated to pottery and ceramics work, using various techniques in multiple locations. One of the main characteristics of this art form is the preparation of the raw material: the paste or mixture, prepared based on the resources of each territory and the intended purpose of the object, with clay or mud being the primary components.

The firing process can be done at low, medium, or high temperatures using a wood-fired or electric kiln, reaching temperatures of 550°C to 1050°C, 1050°C to 1200°C, and 1200°C to 1300°C, respectively. New firing techniques have been incorporated alongside the traditional methods, keeping pace with technological advancements.

In Paraguay, grandmothers pass down to their daughters, who in turn pass down to theirs, the secrets of working with clay and creating beautiful forms by hand.

Juana Marta Rodas and her daughter Julia Isídrez are among the most renowned contemporary ceramists in Latin America. Their art combines Guarani heritage with Jesuit influences brought by colonization. Both Juana Marta Rodas and Julia Isidrez have developed their own original styles and personal languages.

Although they share the same technique and an age-old tradition passed down from their ancestors, their ceramics feature unexpected zoomorphic elements and rounded contours, moving away from their utilitarian functions to become true sculptures.

The hand modeling technique is used in different parts of the country, mainly with clay and black mud. In Guarani, “Ñai’u” means “clay,” and “po” is an abbreviation of “apo,” which itself means “to make” and, when added to a noun, becomes “working.” Together, it means “working with clay” or “clay piece.”

Unlike the cities of Itá and Tobatí, which use black clay, artisans in the city of Areguá use clay with a higher percentage of kaolin, giving the raw material a lighter color. Depending on each artisan’s technique, the clay is cleaned of impurities and then mixed with clay or brick dust to achieve the desired consistency. These clay modeling and firing techniques date back to the ancestral times of some indigenous peoples. In the case of the Guarani, they made funeral urns and containers for transporting or storing water and food.

Today, these techniques still exist in some indigenous communities in our country.

  • Raw materials : sedimentary or black mud, clay, water.
  • Tools : sticks, smooth-surfaced stones, and leaves.
  • Main Products : decorative and/or utilitarian objects.
  • Main Production Regions : Cordillera (Tobatí), Central (Areguá, Itá), Yaguarón (Paraguarí) et Boquerón (Pedro P. Peña, Mariscal Estigarribia).

Source : Institut Paraguayen de l’Artisanat