lidded vessel


Trimming a lid.

From @ro.lummyhill - Sorry for the abrupt cuts! Hard to get it all in one min. Here is some snippets of finishing the lidded pot.
#wheelthrown #trimming #stoneware #vessel

#potterymaking #pottery #ceramics #wip #handmade #lids #wheelthrowing

Made with Instagram

A beautiful Early Bronze age pottery vessel (with lid) from Ballinchalla, near Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, Ireland. It was one of two cinerary urns that were found inside a stone-lined cist that also contained cremated human bone. The pot dates from circa 2000 BC 

The Spirit Vessel

Home of the Spirits, the ideology of the Spirit Vessel spans countless faiths – and rightly so, for it is an “instrument” matched by few in the witch’s arsenal. The Spirit Vessel exists for a number of reasons: it is a grounder – a fetish that binds spirit to our physical plane and builds a bridge between worlds, but – more than that – it is a home, an abode in which the spirit energy dwells. Some are used to trap and harness the energy of the given spirit – so that it may be employed to do practitioner’s bidding, but others exist to house that sacred energy – not with entrapment, but with respect. That is not to say the former is not respectful, only that voluntary bonds exists as oath and agreement. It is a symbiotic, mutual source of power – a hearth by which to draw the force of the arcane. One that bonds both parties. In this aspect, I refer to the Higher Spirits – Gods, the Messengers, and Liminals, though vessels can be employed with equal success to the Dead – specifically ancestors, as a way to draw from the ancestral power – often relying on blood and earth.

Given the vast differences from path to path, I bring a stripped set of instructions: general principles that can be built upon to specialize the vessel for your “camino.”

Begin with the Vessel. What this vessel is depends heavily on both tradition and personal tastes. Possibilities are endless, though cauldrons, ceramic vases, wide-mouthed jugs or basins, even jars can all be utilized effectively. For most, I prefer an opaque, lidded vessel – though for my Spirit Cauldron dedicated to Rosa Caveira, I used a non-lidded cauldron (go figure). This is in line with her fiery energy which lends itself well to iron and sulfur – both of which are present.

One of the most important steps (and one often glossed over) is to treat the Vessel. For my cauldron, I bathed it in high proof alcohol and oils and set it alight. Given its dedication to Rosa Caveira, I did this in her Land – the Cemetery. I also lined the inside of mine with graveyard dirt, which I mixed with the same alcohol (along with flammable oils) and sculpted up the walls, then fired again to create a ceramic-like liner (in part to prevent rust – as iron will readily do so).

After treatment has commenced, it is time to bless and bond the Vessel – which can be as simple or as intricate as you wish it to be. While it was still alight (and since I went heavy handed on the oils, it stayed lit for quite some time) I danced with it in the graveyard. Spinning this flaming cauldron and singing joyfully to the spirits and My Keeper. I explained that this home was forged in her name, gateway between worlds, and a seat for her energy. I drizzled it with rose oils steeped with Herbs of the Dead and my own blood to “seal the deal.”

If that wasn’t fun enough, the last portion consists of Decoration – a term I use loosely, as these same “decorations” will undoubtedly serve a purpose. I filled mine with herbs, sulfur, curios, all of which corresponding to her. Every now and again, I’ll take some of the permanent items out and set the offerings alight. As is forged in fire, so must return. After which, I return the permanent items and place it back beneath my miniature terreiro – which then constantly draws from its energy.

As aforementioned, this general process can be employed for any number of spirits and traditions – even those without a vessel-history. In a sense, it can be equated in part to an altar – as I leave offerings therein and use it as a source of power to draw from. However, given its nature, it can be packed around with me for particularly powerful rituals on the go – which is a particularly useful facet. I’ve also been known to feed any troublesome spirits or energies to it, wherein they may be devoured and purified/concentrated. It is very important to “feed” the vessel, for – as I said – it is a mutual relationship. If you take, it is only right that you return – lest you be cut off from its power.


etsyfindoftheday 1 | 1.28.16

theme thursday: pottery accents

carved ceramic terracotta vase by potterybyosa

i totally dig potterybyosa’s carved aesthetic, and her bold glaze color choices. get ready for some sweet ceramic finds today, followers!

Ambrosius Benson, The Magdalen Reading, c.1525, oil on oak, 41 x 36.2 cm, The National Gallery, London. Source

Italian artist Ambrosius Benson painted several versions of this popular composition. In this particular interpretation, Mary Magdalene’s signature ointment jar is a highly ornate and unusual lidded vessel.



Altun Ha lies on the north-central coastal plain of Belize, in a dry tropical zone. The site was very swampy during its pre-Columbian occupation, with very few recognizable water sources. Currently, the only recognizable natural water source is a creek beyond the northern limit of the mapped area. The water sources used during occupation were Gordon Pond, which is the main reservoir, and the Camp Aguada, which is located in the site center. The site may have contained two chultuns, but provenience is lost since they are used in modern times.

The site itself consists of a central precinct composed of Groups A and B. Groups A and B and Zones C, D, and E consist of the nucleated area, with Zones G, J, K, M, N making part of the suburban area. The site does not contain any stela, suggesting that stelae were not part of ceremonial procedures. There are two recorded causeways, one in Zone C and one connecting Zone E and Zone F. The Zone C causeway does not connect to any structures, but is probably related to Structure C13, and was perhaps used for ceremonial purposes. The other causeway connected the two zones where water sources were located, and was constructed for topographical reasons, specifically to traverse areas of swampy land; it may have been impassable without raised walkways.

Occupational history

Altun Ha was occupied for many centuries, from about B.C. 900 to A.D. 1000. Most of the information on Altun Ha comes from the Classic Period from about A.D. 400 to A.D. 900, when the city was at its largest.


The earliest structures found at Altun Ha, found in Zone C, are two round platforms that date to about BC 900−800, structures C13 and C17. Structure C13 contains remnants of postholes and several burials, while C17 has traces of burning, or fire. Structure C13 was an early religious building, with Zone C inhabitants being of relatively high status. The Late Preclassic had a population increase and large public structures were built. The first of these was structure F8 in AD 200. Although this structure was constructed at the end of the Preclassic, the majority of the archaeological evidence dates to the Early Classic. This structure has a two-element stair composed of small steps with stairside outsets that were perhaps devoted to innovation. F8 also had a three-stage development.

Early Classic

One of the most important finds in the Early Classic comes from structure F8, specifically tomb F8/1. The tomb was placed here about fifty years after the construction of the structure. It contained the remains of an adult male who was interred with a jade and shell necklace, a pair of jade earflares, two shell disks, a pair of pearls, five pottery vessels, and fifty-nine valves of Spondylus shells. Bib head beads in the necklace are associated with southern Mesoamerica. The ceramics for the most part reflect the pattern that was being established at other burials in Altun Ha. Above the burial, however, the roof showed association to the large Mexican site Teotihuacan. The burial was capped with over 8,000 pieces of chert debitage and 163 formal chert tools. The ritual offering, or cache, also contained jade beads, Spondylus valves, puma and dog teeth, slate laminae, and a large variety of shell artifacts. The clear association to Teotihuacan however, comes from the 248 Pachuca green obsidian objects and the 23 ceramic jars, bowls and dishes. The obsidian is of the Miccaotli or Early Tlamimilolpa phase, suggesting that this symbolism was still important and dominant at Teotihuacan. This offering may be of importance to Teotihuacan because of the associations that the ruler in the burial had with central Mexico or the association that the entire Altun Ha community had with Teotihuacan.

There is also evidence of contact and trading with the other side of Mesoamerica in the intermediate area. An offering in the central ceremonial precinct contained an undecorated lidded limestone vessel with jadeite objects, two pearls, laminae of crystalline hematite, Spondylus shell beads, and a tumbaga gold-copper alloy bead representing a jaguar claw. This deposit has been dated to about 500. Traditionally, it was not believed that the Maya had gold during the Classic period; gold was restricted to the Postclassic. This is in part because many believed that gold was not naturally occurring in the Maya area, but recent investigations have shown that placer gold can be found in the streams of the upland zone of western Belize. The Maya most likely did not use metallurgy because of a lack of techniques, which may have been due to the fact that yellow in Maya ideology represent dying plant life and crop failure. This artifact is also identical with other artifacts of the Cocle in central Panama. The Cocle had a sufficient amount of metalworking by 500, and surely played a role in trade relationships beyond Panama. This discovery also shows that important trade networks were set up much earlier than previously thought.

Late Classic

In general, the elite burials at Altun Ha during the Late Classic can be characterized by large amounts of jade. Over 800 pieces of jade have been recovered at the site. More than 60 of these pieces are carved. The beginning of the Late Classic at Altun Ha had one of the most interesting burials in the Maya lowlands. Structure B-4 has tombs with many jade artifacts, including a large jade plaque with a series of twenty glyphs in the phase six construction level. In the 1968 field season, after excavating many tombs in Structure B-4, also called the Temple of the Masonry Altars, the seventh phase of construction revealed the most elaborate tomb at the site nicknamed “The Sun God’s Tomb”.

The Sun God’s Tomb

The Sun God’s Tomb is located in Structure B-4, also called the Temple of the Masonry Altars. Structure B-4 is located in Group B, which is part of the central precinct at Altun Ha, and has a height of 16 meters. Phase VII is the level in which this tomb is located, is dated to about 600−650, which is at the beginning of the Late Classic period. The tomb is the seventh and earliest in B-4, which made the excavators designate this burial Tomb B-4/7.

Tomb B-4/7 contained the skeleton of an adult male with many offerings. The body was fully extended dorsally with the skull facing south-southwest. The person had a height of 170–171 cm, with the recovered skeletal materials consisting of a fragment of the skull, the mandible, long bones, five teeth, two vertebrae, five carpal bones, the patellas, and miscellaneous metacarpals, metatarsals, and phalanges.

The bulk of the interpretations, research, and interest in this tomb have undoubtedly been on the artifacts that were contained in this particular burial. In the initial study, Pendergast classifies these artifacts between perishables and non-perishables.

The perishable artifacts that are in the burial that the researchers were able to recognize include a wooden platform that the body was placed on, felid skins, cloth, matting, cordage, rods, stuccoed objects, red pigment, and gray clay. Not all perishable objects have been interpreted for their original use in the burial, but some have clear associations. The entire tomb was covered in cloth, with textile impressions noted on the pottery. Red pigment was distributed throughout the tomb, with evidence of it on most of the jade.

The researchers documented 43 non-perishable artifacts. These include ceramic bowls; shell beads; jadeite anklets, bracelets and beads; pearls; pyrite and hematite artifacts; and, the most outstanding of all, a carved jade head of the Sun God, Kinich Ahau. The jade head has a height of 14.9 cm, a circumference of 45.9 cm and a weight of 4.42 kg. The jade head was placed at the pelvis of the body, with the face of the jade boulder facing the skull. The Sun God’s Tomb marks the starting point for tomb construction in Structure B-4 during the Late Classic period. The unusual form of this tomb shows the distinctive cultural aspects of Altun Ha and the Caribbean zone compared to the inland Classic Maya sites. Pendergast suggests that with so much jade found at the site, the jade head may have been carved at the site with imported jade. The giant jade head also suggests that this small site had a strong status as a trade or ceremonial center. Pendergast also suggests that this tomb contained a priest that was associated with the Sun God, and that Structure B-4 was in fact dedicated to this deity, based on this one artifact. More recent research however, has shown that this interpretation may be incorrect. Recent research suggests that this giant jade head is actually a Jester God. When drawing this figure spread out on a plane, the figure on this carving shows more of a resemblance to a bird deity with maize iconography, not Kinich Ahau. The Jester God is an early symbol of Maya rulership and is usually seen iconographically in the head, or in this case the jade head. With so many artifacts associated with this tomb, it is clear that the male buried in here was of great importance. The Jester God argument is a better fit for what this person represented, which would also correlate with this being the first tomb constructed in Structure B-4.

Terminal Classic

By 700, modifications in the Central Precinct became rarer, and in Plaza B only Structures B4 and B6 were modified regularly, while Plaza A was still being modified extensively. By 850, structures B5 and A8 were completely abandoned. Gradual abandonment of the site began in 800, except for Zone E, which actually reached its peak usage and occupation between 700 and 800.

Structure D2 is located at the edge of the site’s Central Precinct and is dated to the Late-Terminal Classic. This structure in particular yielded a stemmed bifacial blade of Pachuca green obsidian in a post-abandonment offering. The form, size and manufacturing characteristics are very similar to those found in F8. Two possible explanations for the context of this artifact are that the blade could have been produced long after the decline of Teotihuacan, or was reused from an earlier time period.


In the Postclassic, Structures A1 and A5 were solely used for depositing the dead. By the beginning of the eleventh century, the site of Altun Ha was completely abandoned. During the Late Postclassic after 1225, however, there was a renewed limited occupation at Altun Ha which lasted probably until the fifteenth century. Lamanai-related Postclassic ceremonial vessels were excavated atop B-4.

Hellenistic Gold Satyr Head, C. 4th-3rd Century BC

Turned sharply to his left and tilted back, with a dimpled chin, his elongated face with small bulging eyes beneath a thick v-shaped brow, a small pug nose and an open mouth with the teeth articulated, his tall pointed ears curving inward, his long wavy locks peaked at the top, surmounted by a wreath of ivy and berries, with a double suspension loop behind, preserving a pin threaded through, the underside of the neck with a projecting, perforated flange, perhaps serving as a vessel lid.

Last summer, I dedicated my time spent in Ceramics class to learning how to wheel throw.  I have been determined to learn how to throw for a while now, and I finally came out with a few products I really enjoy!   This is just an example of one of my favorite lidded vessels.  The figurine handle is the Hindu God, Ganesha;  Lord of Success.  The position of his arms also suggest Balance.  I am a Libra. 

This just gets me excited for next semester!  I cannot wait to get back into it!!  Ceramics is both stress relieving and productive: my form of bliss.  I could make things all day long! -Not to mention they make great gifts!