January 1, 2018

Pot-Making in Batangas by Aurelio P. Arguelles, 1917

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1917 ethnographic paper written by one Mauricio Zamora from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.

[Cover page.]

Tagalog Paper No. 267.

POT-MAKING IN BATANGAS

By

Aurelio P. Arguelles

Classification:

  1. TAGALOG: Province of Batangas, Luzon.
  2. Economic Life: Manufactures: Pot-making.
  3. Manila 1917

[p. 1]

POT-MAKING IN BATANGAS

By A. P. Arguelles

Pottery

Pot-making constitutes one of the most important occupations of the people inhabiting that portion of Batangas known as Palyokan. It gives the daily bread to those poor people and no it is an economic phase of the community.

While the making of pots has been practiced for many years yet pottery theirs does not compare favorably with those elsewhere. In general they are very odd, unattractive figures, and at the same time wanting of any semblance of taste and art. In fact, pot making, as an industry, is yet in its infancy. Its growth and development has been very slow as can be very well seen in the output of the last several years. However, the present demand for it and the effect upon the industry in general by the keen competition offered by other pottery districts of the Philippines and the earthenware that are greatly pouring into this country from China and Japan is giving an impetus for its development.



Much could be said about the future of this industry. But it is only the purpose of this short paper to illustrate the manner and means by which parts in general our transferred from the crude clay to the finished product that are put on sale in the markets.

[p. 2]

Soil used

Soil, which is used in the pot making is the sticky clay which is generally obtained from the lowlands beside the Calumpang River. The soil must either have been deposited (alluvial) through frequent overflowing of the river or it may be the result of a complete chemical pulverization the mantle rock (residual or sedentary). It is green in color. All other kinds of clay which have different compositions are not used in this vicinity for making pots.

Methods

The method followed in the making of pots is simple and primitive. After the clay is obtained, the molding, shipping, and hardening or drying off the pots follow. The instruments which are employed are also very few as they are simple and primitive. They consist of a revolving table, round in shape with a convenient hole in the middle. A flat piece of wood with smooth surface also is used in the process of the making.

First of all, the clay is molded until it is rendered very sticky and refined. This is done on any convenient place with a smooth surface, usually on a wooden table. This completed, the clay is divided into portions, each of which is enough to be made into one complete pot. These vary in size and kinds. Then, the shooting of the play into pots is done. It is fixed on the revolving table for here the shaping with the view of getting symmetry for pot is better obtained. Sometimes, decoration is hard on the outside of the pots.

When the clay is molded and sheet into pots, these parts are allowed to dry in a dark corner of the barn of the house

[p. 3]

where the temperature is low and the atmosphere to some degree humid. They are allowed to stay there for a day or so and when they are almost dry, they are taken and given the finishing touch by polishing and smoothening their outer surface, that they may give a very shiny appearance. Hardwoods with very smooth surfaces are employed in this part of the process.

After all these preliminary steps are done, the pots are arranged and placed among layers of bamboo fuels to be burned. This burning of pots presents a very beautiful spectacle which lasts for an hour or two. This method of burning is it once wasteful and uneconomical. The introduction of the modern kilns me remedy their wastes, resulting from the old system.

Kinds

There are a dozen kinds of pots made - that is variety as to their shapes and uses. We have the dishes, the frying pans, flower pots, [unclear word] all made in the same method but whose shape and styles are all together varying. With this paper, i have attached several drawings which may serve to illustrate in part the different kinds of pots made in the pottery districts of Batangas.

Concluding Remarks

The pots made in Batangas in general are comparable to those earthenware made elsewhere. Absence in taste in making and art is noticeable. The lack of organized pottery and the want of technical men are the leading course of these defects.

This industry, however, like every other, has its future. The present output of Batangas pots a loan amounts to several

[p. 4]

thousand pesos. The neighboring towns, and the surrounding provinces are all supplied with pots made in Batangas. With this promising market, and its great demand, there is no doubt that this industry will be developed, thereby the methods of making pots will surely undergo definite changes and improvements.

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Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Pot-making in Batangas,” by Aurelio P. Arguelles, 1917, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.

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