Yine Ceramics

Yine ceramic making is practiced exclusively by the women. For its creation, different types of clay are used, carefully selected from the river banks. Among the most common pieces of Yine ceramics are the gimate or cooking pot, the gashgaji (jar), kajpapajo for serving masato and kolpes (plates).  In addition, ceramics with designs of human faces are also made.

One of the characteristics of Yine ceramics is that many of these pieces have half of their body painted red, while the other half is of another colour, usually obtained from different types of clays. The plates, for example, have a red base and are carefully polished, on which are white designs, that are not glazed as in the liquid storage vessels.

To make these pieces waterproof, resins from copal and the huayo sugar tree are used. Finally, the pieces are fired to seal them. It is interesting to note that Yine pottery has similarities with those of the Shipibo-Konibo, suggesting cultural exchanges and influences over the years between neighbouring peoples.

It is also important to note the spirit of the clay, known as “Gayo”; personified as a life-sized mask with very distinct features. He is a demonic spirit who would punish children with “ishanga” or stinging nettle to scare them away for playing too long in the river. He would appear draped in banana leaves with a large and frightening clay head. Learn more about Gayo from our exhibit in 2023 and the video below.

"For me, the experience has been about how to remember and relive a beautiful experience, a return to working the soft clay. At first we hadn’t done the process well because; as my mother told me, ‘the clay has its own rules’, and we didn’t exactly follow the rules, such as: not to laugh when one is connecting with the clay, not to allow the visits of men, and to be very serious in the process." Emily Urquía Sebastián (Yine artist).

Pottery is not separate from spiritual and social relationships with the environment, as mentioned by Vilma and the history of Gayo. Translated by Emily Urquia:

"Before, the clay was something sacred that has its spirit, (...) and they say that with all their children they were going to play with the clay (...) they were also making a hole with their children, drinking masato, getting drunk, playing and throwing themselves with clay, and that is Gayo's annoyance. He got so upset that he started to appear, with his ishanga, wanting to ishangear the people, and they ran in fear, because he says it is not for them to be playing with that - that part that they have taken was Gayo's face - to this day the clay is like that, it is not for them to be playing with, otherwise he is going to transform and come with his ishanga. Maybe that's the reason why they have stopped making pottery because of this history (laughs).