Old crafts | Against the loss of know-how

People come, people go, and almost always they leave behind evidence that allows later generations to come into contact with them. Likewise, ideas, self-understanding, culture, religion, trade and change shape a region for centuries, if not millennia.

The multiple settlements in the area around Valencia and Alicante have left countless traces and not only the Moors with their culture have left their mark until today. Towns and villages have their own history, their peculiarities and stories.

Deeply rooted in the generations, traditions could be preserved, which are still lived in the region today. Countless fiestas, whose origins go back a long way, are still celebrated today; the historical games „Moros y Christianos“ are undoubtedly one of them.

But also old trades have survived and survived into modern times. The pottery village of Agost in the hinterland of the Costa Blanca is a living example of how a craft can survive against all odds. As early as 1797, the naturalist Cavanilles mentioned that there were potteries in Agost, because the clayey soil in the region is predestined for such use. In the 19th century, a whole industry of pottery developed, 40 workshops were busy in the small town producing ceramics for household, kitchenware, but also bricks and bricks. Until the 1950s, the potters made a good living. However, when the invention of plastic made products such as those of Tupperware (founded in 1946 and, thanks to the ingenious saleswoman Brownie Wise, led to success via the first Tupper parties) possible and celebrated their triumphal march in households in the USA and Europe, the potters lost a large part of their earning opportunities in a relatively short time. Increasing industrialization accelerated the death of traditional crafts. Despite this, some have survived in Agost to this day and continue to maintain the pottery. Under the brand name „Agost fet a mà“, four of them have joined forces to preserve the special craftsmanship of the potters of Agost. A pottery museum, Museo de Alfarería, founded in the early 1980s of the 20th century by the German Ilse Schütz, preserves the heritage of the potters and provides insights into the production of the ceramics.

One of the most important ceramics that were and still are produced in Agost is the traditional Spanish water jug „botijo“, the „sweating jug“. This is a jug whose fired clay remains porous and allows the finest droplets of water to pass through to the outside. The water evaporates and the resulting evaporative cooling cools the water inside the jug - even when it is very hot, the water thus remains an average of 4 to 5 degrees colder. An ingenious principle that has proven itself in Spanish heat for centuries.

Other potters in Agost today see themselves more as artisans and have developed innovative technologies for designing and firing the ceramics. The market for decorative objects and works of art is more lucrative because, despite the less tranquil ambience in the village, more and more tourists are discovering Agost and its pottery tradition.



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EDITION 3 - 2022

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