Global Clay

Global Clay

Themes in World Ceramic Traditions
John A. Burrison
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/13/2017
Format: Hardback 228 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03188-4
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For over 25,000 years, humans across the globe have shaped, decorated, and fired clay. Despite great differences in location and time, universal themes appear in the world's ceramic traditions, including religious influences, human and animal representations, and mortuary pottery. In Global Clay: Themes in World Ceramic Traditions, noted pottery scholar John A. Burrison explores the recurring artistic themes that tie humanity together, explaining how and why those themes appear again and again in worldwide ceramic traditions. The book is richly illustrated with over 200 full-color, cross-cultural illustrations of ceramics from prehistory to the present. Providing an introduction to different styles of folk pottery, extensive suggestions for further reading, and reflections on the future of traditional pottery around the world, Global Clay is sure to become a classic for all who love art and pottery and all who are intrigued by the human commonalities revealed through art.

Author Bio

John A. Burrison is Regents Professor of English and Director of the Folklore Curriculum at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is the author of numerous books, including From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia and Roots of a Region: Southern Folk Culture.


“This is a singular (and decidedly ambitious) undertaking—a survey of traditional ceramics across millennia and world cultures, all structured around recurrent themes or functions. I have read numerous books on traditional ceramics, but I’ve never encountered anything quite like this. ”
 — Charles G. Zug III, author of The Traditional Pottery of North Carolina

“Ambitious in scope and successful in describing the central role that works of clay have played preserving common cultural narratives . . . Essential. All readers.”
 — Choice Reviews

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Table of Contents

1. International Folk Pottery: A Brief Primer
2. Monuments to Clay: Public Markers of Craft Identity
3. The Human Image: Face Jugs and Other People-Pots
4. The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Cross-Cultural Imitations
5. A Clay Menagerie: The Animal World in Ceramics
6. Idols with Feet of Clay: Ceramics and World Religions
7. Returning to Clay: Death and the Afterlife
8. The Last Folk Potters?: Prognosis for the Future
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