A Historic Journey of Jamaican Ceramics | Arts & Hobbies

Jamaican ceramics: a historical and contemporary survey is a comprehensive and refreshing examination of the development of ceramics from prehistoric times to the present day. This visually rich, exciting and authoritative book is an unprecedented survey that sheds a welcome light on fascinating historical and modern contemporary Jamaican ceramics.

Norma Rodney Harrack, herself a ceramic artist, offers exciting insights and is a valuable resource for ceramicists, students, collectors, enthusiasts and consumers of ceramics.

Rooted in human history, this lavishly illustrated and comprehensive chronicle begins with Jamaica’s first population and follows ceramic production chronologically across the island from the Tainos – Arawakan-speaking Native Americans (formerly known as of the island’s Arawaks) – which began around AD 650. The illustrations, drawn from national and international museums, collectors and practicing potters in Jamaica, provide representative examples of the main styles, materials and forms of different periods, allowing the reader to make comparisons or recognize relationships between the ceramic works despite the works being widely separated in space and time.


Each chapter focuses on key thematic areas – from the history of early ceramics and the influence of European ceramic practices to the syncretism and continuity of Jamaican African traditions – with comprehensive discussions of how the canon of Jamaican ceramics has developed over centuries. Harrack’s many years of teaching, investigation and discovery guided much of the primary research for this project.

Jamaican ceramics: a historical and contemporary survey is the first publication to document the extraordinary narrative of past periods of Jamaican ceramics, creating a grand tour of the wonderful examples of clay forms associated with the different historical periods. Clay is one of the very first materials “invented” by man. It represents an essential part of human life, and this book documents how it has been molded, thrown, glazed and decorated over the millennia to store and transport food and water.

While this book examines the progression of ceramic making in Jamaica, from its earliest manifestation, it also recounts how comprehensive the ceramic vessel has been for ancient and modern peoples; how clay vessels were made to celebrate rituals of all kinds, including death, and to register the rhythm of solitary and social acts of eating and drinking.

Readers will be treated to the author’s vast knowledge and passion for ceramics of all kinds, from all places and times, as well as his unique ability to put ceramics into context and bring them to life. The book highlights 20th century Jamaica at a time when pottery was driven by new technological and artistic achievements and discoveries, as well as being a recognized art form. He documents the power of fire to transform soft, malleable clay into a tough, desirable material; a revolution that would embolden a new era in which clay takes many forms, from fired bricks and votive figures thrown into the flames as part of fertility rituals to the most sophisticated and technically accomplished vessels and sculptures produced in the industry Jamaican ceramics.

Title: Jamaican ceramics: a historical and contemporary survey

Author: Norma Rodney Harrack

ISBN: 9789766408848

Editor: West Indies University Press

For more information, please visit https://www.uwipress.com/9789766408848/jamaican-ceramics/

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