- Fayoum Pottery
Ceramic Arts and Crafts in an Egyptian Oasis
NAMED A BEST NEW POTTERY BOOK TO READ IN 2022 BY THE BOOK AUTHORITY
Lavishly illustrated with over 250 full-color photographs of unique designs and rare methods, providing an in-depth look at the pottery produced in the Fayoum
The Fayoum, a broad, fertile depression in Egypt’s Western Desert, known for its great salt lake, its rich green fields, and its unique pharaonic and Greco-Roman remains, is also home to three very different centers of pottery production. The potters of Kom Oshim specialize in decorated garden pots and other utilitarian ware, and guard the special secret of how to make the largest clay vessels in Egypt, up to an extraordinary two and a half meters tall. At al-Nazla, ancient traditions are kept alive, as members of a single extended family continue to use millennia-old techniques passed down from generation to generation, hand-forming among other things their distinctive spherical water jars with amazing dexterity and speed. In the small village of Tunis, the establishment of a pottery school by a Swiss couple in 1990 led to a complete transformation, and the village now hosts more than twenty-five pottery workshops and showrooms, whose products are sold in Cairo, London, and New York.
In this lively insight into a varied and vital craft, the author reveals the stories of the three villages and the skilled potters who make their living there, looking at how they learned their trade and how they work, from the preparation of the clay to the formation of the pots on the wheel or by hand, to the decoration, the glazing, and the firing, and finally to the display or distribution and sale of the finished product.
For past and future travelers to Egypt, lovers of the craft of pottery, practitioners, and collectors, this beautifully illustrated exploration of the ceramics of the Fayoum will inspire and enchant.
R. Neil Hewison is the author of The Fayoum: History and Guide (AUC Press, revised edition 2008) and the translator of After the Nobel Prize 1989–1994: The Non-Fiction Writing of Naguib Mahfouz Volume IV (2020), as well as fiction by Yusuf Idris, Yusuf Abu Rayya, and Gamal al-Ghitani. He lives in the pottery village of Tunis in the Fayoum.
A Best New Pottery Book To Read In 2022 (The Book Authority)
"An informative and lyrical celebration of the Fayoum, the potters, and their craft, Fayoum Pottery balances information and historical context with an almost poetic description of time and place. This is a book I’ve been waiting for."—Carol Sidky, Louis Farouk (London)
"The production of pottery is central to three villages in the Fayoum of Egypt. This book presents a close look at each pottery’s distinct techniques, wares, and business." —Ceramics Monthly
"A vivid and intimate portrait of the life and work of contemporary potters in the Fayoum"—AramcoWorld
"A beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched look at pottery making in Egypt that will appeal to anyone interested in the art form."—Library Journal
"This well-researched, beautifully illustrated book describes the remarkable pottery traditions that have been evolving for thousands of years in the Fayoum oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert . . . Recommended."—CHOICE
"Inherently fascinating and impressively informative, Fayoum Pottery: Ceramic Arts and Crafts in an Egyptian Oasis will have a strong and enduring appeal to lovers of the craft of pottery—both practitioners, and collectors alike."—Midwest Book Review