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Fayoum Pottery: Ceramic Arts and Crafts in an Egyptian Oasis

Lavishly illustrated with over 250 full-color photographs of unique designs and rare methods, providing an in-depth look at the pottery produced in the Fayoum

The Fayoum, a broad, fertile depression in Egypt’s Western Desert, known for its great salt lake, its rich green fields, and its unique pharaonic and Greco-Roman remains, is also home to three very different centers of pottery production. The potters of Kom Oshim specialize in decorated garden pots and other utilitarian ware, and guard the special secret of how to make the largest clay vessels in Egypt, up to an extraordinary two and a half meters tall. At al-Nazla, ancient traditions are kept alive, as members of a single extended family continue to use millennia-old techniques passed down from generation to generation, hand-forming among other things their distinctive spherical water jars with amazing dexterity and speed. In the small village of Tunis, the establishment of a pottery school by a Swiss couple in 1990 led to a complete transformation, and the village now hosts more than twenty-five pottery workshops and showrooms, whose products are sold in Cairo, London, and New York.

In this lively insight into a varied and vital craft, the author reveals the stories of the three villages and the skilled potters who make their living there, looking at how they learned their trade and how they work, from the preparation of the clay to the formation of the pots on the wheel or by hand, to the decoration, the glazing, and the firing, and finally to the display or distribution and sale of the finished product. Hardcover, 192 pages.

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