November 2017


“The Nigger”
Firing is the most crucial part of the pottery making process for two basic reasons. First, it converts fragile clay into durable ceramics, and secondly it is during the firing stage when most damages occur. These points along with the fact that fire was often associated with rituals, correlated the apotropaic symbols and spells of fire rituals with providing a safeguard. Apotropaic heads and distorted idols were used by the ancient Greeks to ward off or “exorcize” the evil demons of the kiln who might harm the ceramics. In an ancient vase painting such a scary head is depicted oven the door of a kiln.

In more recent periods of Greek ceramics these apotropaic heads have been found only in the region of Koroni, in the southern Peloponnese. The scholars R. Hampe and A. Winter noted that in the village of Kobi (Kόμποι):

…over the door of the kiln there was a built-in head in relief, with sunken eyes and a big nose like Silenius. It was completely black from the smoke. ‘We call him the nigger’ said Panagiotis. To my question as to why the head was located there he replied: ‘That’s how it should be.’ … (1)

“A long road has reached its end leaving us adrift.” (2)


Κείμενο/text : Νίκος Λιάρος
English translation with the aid of Stephanie Sampson
Φωτογραφία/photo: Φωτογραφικό αρχείο ΚΜΝΚ

(1) Hampe R., Winter Α., «Bei Töpfern und Töpferinnen in Kreta, Messenien und Zypern» Mainz 1962, s. 54
(2) Αναστασία Κατσαπάρα- Φανουρίου, «Μικρό χρονικό για μια χώρα πηλού», Εστία, 1990, σ. 33