A. Introduction:


The first thing that is important to bear in mind is that pottery should be viewed as a spectrum with low and high status vessels at either end, and with many other types in between; furthermore, any one type of pottery will have further spectra within it, ranging from crudely to finely potted. Thus there are no clear distinctions between one pottery type and another, and it is especially suspect to make judgements based on categorising "glazed" as distinct from "non-glazed" vessels. The classic example that undermines the glazed/unglazed distinction is that of Terra Lemnia: this is a type of unglazed pottery that became very popular in the Ottoman period, after the midC15th. However, it was considered to be more valuable even than the beautiful Iznik vessels of this period: Evliya Çelebi (a midC17th Ottoman historian) even estimates the value of one of these unglazed vessels as twice that of a Chinese porcelain cup. They were even kept in the court treasury, and given as imperial gifts.

The lesson of this is perhaps that we as art historians can never really appreciate the true value of a pottery vessel within the cultural, social and economic context of its own time. Thus, even the spectrum suggested above is formulated according to our perceptions of a pot’s value: to form a spectrum you must have two delimiting parameters, which depend on what we choose as parameters, so above we have chosen to start with "low-status" and end with "high-status". However, these subjective terms can be quantified to a large extent by understanding the technology of how pottery vessels are formed.

The next chapter (Technology Part 2) deals with scientific and ethnographic approaches to the study of pottery, which allow the student to make careful judgements based on an investigation of evidence provided by the pot itself or by modern-day cultures that still use traditional means of pottery manufacture. In order to understand the value and validity of such approaches, it is important to look first at the actual methods involved in the production of a pottery vessel, briefly considering specific examples where relevant, and examining case-studies which allow us to appreciate the workmanship of a vessel and thus its worth (this will be indicated by links or image icons).


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