Does it happen to you? You start thinking about your heritage or country of origin and then become a bit nostalgic? It does happen to me!
Sometimes I think this desire to adorn myself comes from my indigenous roots., and handmade Hispanic ceramic pendants and earrings provide an especially fun way to do this. Why? Because assuming the clay is locally sourced, you can quite literally keep a little piece of Latin America with you at all times.
If we look at the history behind ceramic in Latin America we see that ceramics have long been very important in Latin American cultures, both as functional items, ritual objects, and decoration or jewelry.
Many cultures made impressive pots, bowls, vases, jars, and jugs for everyday use in the home, as well as ornate ritual and religious objects like funeral urns and incense burners. Statues representing various gods and spirits also abounded.
Ceramics also served as adornment. Early artisans paired ceramic or stone beads with precious metals like silver and gold. Today, it is very common to see South American pendants, bracelets, and earrings that mix materials this way.
Hispanic Ceramic Earrings
One of my favorite mixes is in a set of dangling earrings that alternate silver beads with ceramic ones painted with a stylized pattern reminiscent of the geometric shapes found in the decorative arts of the Mayans and Aztecs I bought in Mexico.
The skill of indigenous people in working with clay should amaze you. Except in rare cases, clay doesn’t just come out of the ground ready to shape and mold into high-quality ceramics. Instead, it must be refined and purified by drying raw clay, pounding it into powder, and then sifting out all the impurities.
Clay must also be tempered by the addition of various materials like bone, wood ash, or crushed stone in order to strengthen it.
Choosing Ceramic Pendants and Earrings
When looking for authentic, traditional Hispanic ceramic pendants and earrings, bear in mind that indigenous peoples did not have access to glazes. Instead, they decorated their pottery either with slips or colored clays before firing, or with paints after firing. Some cultures also burnished fired pottery by rubbing it with a piece of metal until it took on a dark luster.
Many of the Andes cultures excelled at representational ceramics, often creating portrait vessels or representations of various animals.
Today, many artisans transfer this traditional focus on representational depictions of the world around us into handmade ceramic pendants that feature images of iconic Andean creatures like llamas or alpacas.
Whether you prefer representational designs or more abstract, geometric ones, you’re sure to be able to find something you like in the world of Hispanic ceramic jewelry.
Go traditional to remind yourself of your most ancient heritage, or go modern to keep in touch with how the culture continues to evolve today, and how artisans interpret that. Either way, ceramic jewelry can serve as a vital connection to your roots and a daily reminder of where you come from.