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pottery in books

updated fri 6 sep 02


Martin Rice on thu 5 sep 02

To take up this interesting intermittent theme again, thought I'd write =
and share this passage that I came across while reading last night. From =
La casa de los esp=EDritus by Isabel Allende, in my less than adequate =

Pedro Garc=EDa, the old man who was already nearly 90 years old and who =
could hardly drag his bones around anymore, shared the same idea with =
Clara that hands are to be used. Thus it was that one day when Blanca =
was walking around complaining of a migraine, he called out to her and, =
without preambles, gave her a ball of clay. He spent the afternoon =
teaching her how to mold the clay to make cooking pots.... The old man =
wouldn't know that he was giving Blanca something that later would be =
her sole means for living and which would comfort her in her saddest =

He taught her to move the wheel with her foot while her hands flew over =
the soft clay to make dishes and jugs. But very quickly Blanca =
discovered that these functional things bored her and that it was much =
more entertaining to make figures of animals and people. With time she =
decided to make a miniature world of domestic animals and people from =
all professions: carpenters, laundresses, and cooks, with all their =
little tools and furniture.

"This isn't worth anything!" said Esteban Trueba [Blanca's father] when =
he saw his daughter's work.

"Let's find a use for it," suggested Clara [Blanca's mother].

Thus surfaced the idea of Nativity scenes. Blanca began to produce =
little figures for the Christmas manger, not only the Magi and the =
shepherds, but a hoard of people of the most diverse sorts and every =
kind of animal, camels and zebras from Africa, iguanas from the =
Americas, and tigers from Asia, without giving any consideration to the =
zoology of Bethlehem.

Then she added animals that she invented, sticking half an elephant to =
half a crocodile. ...

Blanca's multitudinous Nativity scenes turned into a curiosity. She had =
to train two boys to help her because she couldn't keep up with the =
requests. That year everyone wanted to have one for Christmas, =
especially because they were free. Esteban Trueba decided that her mania =
for clay was all well and good as amusement for a young lady, but that =
if it turned into a business, the name of the Truebas would be =
associated with those of people in trade who sold nails at the hardware =
store and fried fish at the market.

Lagunas de Bar=FA, Costa Rica