ARTS OF CLAY by Christine Price


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This companion to last year's Arts of Wood is similarly modest in format, with the objects represented in richly shaded pencil drawings and classified according to function rather than culture. (The similarities can be striking, as exemplified in three bowls from three different cultures--Papua, Nigeria, and ancient Romania--each Covered with graceful allover decorations of molded spirals.) Price begins and ends with a Pokot potter working in her East African cave--as she ""stoops low and walks around her work, the turning of her whole body is shaping the clay""--and notes that while almost everywhere the first potters were women, professional male craftsmen took over with the advent of the wheel. The Arts of Clay includes cups, pipes, lamps, and water carriers, and Price's survey ranges from cooking pots, the humblest of all--though even here there is room for decoration, such as the double row of ""beads"" Navaho women apply to the neck of their pots--to elaborate ceremonial vessels such as the Ibo bowl adorned with a whole row of richly detailed figures ""lively enough to leap off the pot."" Throughout, one feels the presence of the pots' components--""earth, fire, water, and the skill of the hand""--and, as with Arts of Wood, envies their creators and users the integration they represent.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1977
Publisher: Scribners