D.10. Dangers and hardships to the craftsmen
from pottery manufacture


As occasionally mentioned above, there were aspects of pottery manufacture which were bad for the health of the craftsman, and even sometimes fatal. Many of the ingredients gave off toxic gases when heated, which the potters would be exposed to; despite being hard and exhausting work, the constant grinding of the frits and crystals like quartz into fine powders meant that the potters were inhaling fine grains which, like asbestosis, caused lung disease. Stoking the kiln was a long and arduous task with constant exposure to high temperatures and whatever gases came out of the kiln; since the temperature and atmosphere had to be carefully controlled, or the pots and therefore the potter’s livelihood would be ruined, he could not afford to neglect his task for a minute even in the heat and discomfort of his working conditions. Even before the relatively simple process of throwing a pot on the wheel could be done, the clay had to be gathered and tempered, and before glazing or decorating all sorts of other preparations had to be made of the frits and pigments. Generally speaking it seems to have been a thankless task, but one which occasionally and for a select few paid high rewards in wealth and status.


Back || Contents || Next