Ceramics and pottery is a large and historical tradition in Nicaragua. The history of pottery dates back to the Spanish Conquest, 2,500 years ago. One city in particular celebrates and creates most of the pottery and ceramic goods in Nicaragua, called San Juan de Oriente, a city in the department of Masaya. San Juan de Oriente was previously named San Juan de los Platos because of the ceramics made by the city’s population. San Juan de Oriente has a large history of pottery making that continues to thrive today.
In my most recent visit to Nicaragua in 2009, my family and I made sure to visit San Juan de Oriente for the very first time. The village is very small, mainly filled with shops filled with their ceramic goods, hoping that someone will pass by and buy a pot. We decided to walk around the town for a little bit and came across a man sitting on his shaded front porch and spinning clay to be made into the shape of a vase. I was in for a treat. I own and collect several vases, pots, and little ceramic figures from Nicaragua, but never have I seen someone actually making it. This man was awesome in several ways and had lots of stories to tell. His family has been making ceramics since before the Spanish Conquest and has lived in the same house for generations. The tradition has been passed down to each member of their family and has helped keep them alive by funding their everyday necessities. This explains the importance of tradition financially as well as making sure that it stays alive in the family.
Although San Juan de Oriente is not the only place in Nicaragua that makes and sells ceramics and pottery, it is the central hub of where the rest of the country receives or sells their goods. San Juan de Oriente is not the easiest place to find and is not easily accessible, but you will know once you arrive from the road from Managua to Masaya by its colorful signage at the entrance. The families carving, painting, spinning clay, and selling the fine pottery is seen throughout the town with more than 95% of the villages population making their living this way.
Nicaragua has tons of beautiful customs, pottery and ceramics being one of them. What is one of the biggest customs your country has to offer? Have you seen Nicaraguan pottery before?