HUNGARIAN FOLK POTTERY – Slipwares and Redwares

IMG_2341-0.JPG Following on from the previous post about Hungarian folk pottery, here are some more examples. They are probably all 20th-century. These Hungarian (or Romanian) redwares were bought in 2003 in Sherborne in Dorset. The shop was selling country furniture and the pots had come in with a shipment from Eastern Europe – the dealer said from Hungary. A lot of pots must have come over at that time – you sometimes see this kind of pottery on eBay now being sold as English or West Country. These pots are well used. When I bought them they smelled of oil and milk products. Apart from the strainer they are all sooted on the base and have been used for cooking or heating. They are very much kitchen/dairy working pots but none the worse for that. The red jug is simple, well proportioned, beautifully thrown, light as a feather and a lovely colour. What more could you want?

A large bucket-pot with traied slip decoration in white and purple-brown. Some blackening to the base.

A large ‘bucket-pot’ with traied-slip decoration in white and purple-brown. Some blackening to the base.

‘Bucket-pots’ are a common form in mainland N. Europe but only turn up in the South-West UK. The form is designed to carry liquid easily as with the metal or wooden equivalent. There are variations – this one has a slightly notched rim to take a lid. It has been well soaked in oil in its life which is no doubt encouraging the white slip to flake off. The blackening on the base is around the edge and looks more like contact with a hot dirty surface than evidence of use on the stove.The white and green slip decoration on this jar resembles some of the more elaborate examples in Hungarian museum collections from the Great Plain (for instance from Hódmezővásárhely). It has been heavily burnt around the base and sides and has evidently been used for heating something oily or greasy.


Two-handled jar decorated with trailed and painted white and green slip. Blackened base.

This is such and elegant simple pot. The form reminds me of Roman metal vessels. It is beautifully thrown and light as a feather. The galleried rim seems to be a characteristic of these pots. In this case the more elaborately decorated examples in the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum collection have small conical lids. A simple band of white slip around the neck has been almost eaten away by the glaze.

Cheese-strainer. Undecorated with mottled cloud from wood-firing.

Strainer. Undecorated but mottled orange-green from wood-firing.

Like the jug, this pot is very thinly potted. I imagine the form being used for cheese-making but I suppose there are various other kitchen processes that require a high sided strainer. The colour is like that you find on many Lake’s pieces from Cornwall – the result of a wood-firing moving between reducing and oxidising conditions in the last part of the firing. It happens when the glaze is thin or patchy. Peter Smith thinks it has something to do with using furze/bracken to ‘flash’ at end of a firing. Essentially a reduced iron-green reoxidises to a red/orange one on exposure to air doing so most easily where it can reach the clay body.

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