One of the oldest arts practiced in Sifnos, from the Early Cycladic period, is pottery.
The abundance of refractory clay, the product of shale disintegration, the water from wells and cisterns, the existence of fuel, the mild climatic conditions are the main factors that favored the development of pottery in Sifnos, in combination with, of course, and the good performance of Sifnia in the art of processing clay.
Thus, with the passage of time, the name "Sifnios" was identified with the professions "tsoukalas", "potter", "jug". In the years of the great prosperity of pottery, in the workshops there was a division of labor and in the production process participated the branch, the earthen, the mule, the thresher, the master and his assistant (pespreti).
The clay soil of Sifnos, in addition to nourishing the delicious products (wheat, barley, grapes, oil, capers, figs, almonds, herbs and wild grasses) is also used to produce the well-known Sifnos ceramics.
Most of the potters with their tsoukaladika, were on the glass and in creeks that are protected from the strong north winds. And this in order to be easy to load in the boats with which the handmade goods were transported.
Today, there are about a dozen Sifnos potters scattered in Sifnos to practice the art of the wheel with excellent results, each giving its own stigma. Their stoves, in addition to decorative ceramics, make many traditional useful ceramics, such as cooking utensils, utensils for transporting liquids and other useful objects.
Pottery art through the centuries
Sifnos is the stronghold of the development and spread of pottery in the Cycladic area. The first samples of pottery art date from the Early Cycladic period (statuettes, decorative and utensils) and from then until today this art continues. The rich existence of raw materials on the island (clay deposits, abundant water, strong sun), as well as the skillful hands of the craftsmen helped in the development of this art.
Initially, pottery (also known as tsikaladika) was located inland near Artemonas and Ano Petali, in order to protect themselves from the raids of pirates who dominated the Aegean. Later they were transported to the bays of the island and especially to those that were protected from the strong north winds.
Traces of old pottery still exist in the coastal settlements, such as Faros, Platis Gialos, Kamares, Vathi. Most buildings still retain their shape but have changed use.
The Sifnians spread their art throughout Greece, while many pottery has been founded by Sifnians or others who have apprenticed with them. Today, more than a dozen pottery shops are still operating throughout Sifnos, contributing to the continuation of the tradition.
Thus, the visitor of Sifnos can find wonderful decorative and useful pottery, made by the skillful hands of Sifnos potters who have been working with crafts and passion on the Sifnos soil for centuries, sculpting objects of unique beauty and art, but he is also given the opportunity to watch the unique up close the traditional way of their production in one of the pottery workshops!
The potters made pottery for home cooking but also for the transport of liquids and other materials, the best known of which are the following.
Mastelo: The utensil used at Easter for cooking meat. The meat resting on vine branches in the mastelo, is baked in the wood oven. The mastelo in Sifnos is traditionally eaten on the night of the Resurrection, after the service.
Canopies: The utensil in which the traditional Sifnos revitada is cooked, which is baked all night in the wood oven. The chickpeas are traditionally baked all Saturday night and served on Sunday morning after the service.
Various utensils for transporting liquids such as pitchers, jugs, half-pitchers, lains, etc.
Other useful items they made were the fufu (grill), the armeos (a utensil used for milking animals), thipselia (ceramics) which went into holes in the mountain and there the bees made their hive), armeoi (for milking the animals) and flari which was the upper part of the chimney.
From these flares came the expression "your bad weather and your black flare" as many times the flare did not work well and smoked.