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Open Access From Suazoid to folk pottery: pottery manufacturing traditions in a changing social and cultural environment on St. Lucia

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From Suazoid to folk pottery: pottery manufacturing traditions in a changing social and cultural environment on St. Lucia

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Overview of pottery manufacturing traditions in St Lucia, placed within the island's cultural history from pre-Columbian times up to present Afro-Caribbean folk pottery. Authors focus on manufacturing processes in different cultural traditions through history, looking at raw materials used, the shaping and finishing, decoration, and firing process. First, they sketch St Lucia's habitation history since the first Amerindian settlers in 200 AD, and evidence of pottery, which climaxed in the later Suazoid period pottery since about 1150 AD, and discuss how later European colonization and arrival of Africans contributed to the decline of Amerindian traditions, replaced by European and West African pottery traditions, although some Amerindian traditions remained. The pottery manufacturing of 3 main cultural traditions are examined, discussing differences, as well as similarities due to cultural blending: Suazoid pottery, later Amerindian Island Carib pottery, with origins in the Guianas region, related to the Kar'ina, and current St Lucian, West African-influenced, "folk pottery". Authors conclude that all 3 traditions mainly use local clay, and include hand-built and low-fired pottery. Shaping techniques include coiling, and in today's pottery also fashioning with smaller lumps. Surfaces are smooth and polished in today's pottery, but more scraped and scratched in Suazoid vessels. Further, they find that decoration is uncommon in today's pottery, while Suazoid ceramics included decorations, and that vessel shapes tend to be simple in all 3 traditions. They also find that women have been the principal potters through time, although pottery was a male activity among the Island Caribs in the mid-17th c.

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