World Ceramics: How was it made?

Jomon literally means "cord markings." The name comes from the scratchings or impressions of cord or matting which decorated the outer surface of the vessels. The potter made the patterns on this pot by rolling twisted cord or rope over the surface of the shaped clay. On other pots, patterns were created with impressions of bamboo sticks, seashells, and even fingernails.

The storage jar is remarkably regular and SYMMETRICAL, a form typically accomplished with the aid of a potter's wheel. But it was made well before the introduction of the wheel in Japan. The artist built up the vessel from a base using long coils of clay rolled by hand, pressed together, and formed into a distinctive shape. Imaginative handles and rims were also shaped by hand and applied at the top.

Jomon potters used a coarse-textured clay that was available near their dwelling sites. Sand or crushed stone was added as a TEMPER to give the pots greater structural strength as the pots were being formed.

To make them more durable, unglazed Jomon wares were stacked in simple open pits and "cooked" by wood fires built around and over them. The fire was fed continuously for about an hour and then allowed to die down. The low firing temperatures ranged from 600° to
800° C. Black spots on this jar may have been caused by REDUCTION, a reduced amount of oxygen during the firing process, or by cooking fires.

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