Doña Rosa Pottery



About Doña Rosa

Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto was a ceramics artisan from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Doña Rosa is known for creating a method for producing a pottery style called barro negro (black clay).  The black, shiny appearance is fully realized after firing the clay. 

Photo of Doñ Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto from 1966

Doña Rosa died in 1980.  The pottery making tradition of making the barro negro pottery is being carried on by her descendents in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca.


Doña Rosa's ceramics

Doña Rosa's black pottery became a favorite of collectors and is now mimicked by others throughout Oaxaca and other areas.  Barro negro pottery has been produced for hundreds of years;  examples of it having been found at numerous archeological sites in Mexico.  This style of black clay pottery has remained a traditional craft of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs to this day.

Doñ Rosa with her grandson in 1966.      Photo by Bob Natkin.

Doña Rosa discovered in the 1950s that she could change the color and shine of her ceramics using a technique still employed.  She would polish it with a quartz stone before firing.  This compresses the surface of the clay before it is completely dry.  Then by firing at slightly lower temperature than normal, the result is a much more shinny surface. This tends to produce a more brittle pottery, so it is more ornemental than functional.  She produced a wide variety of vessels and figures.




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