The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Potter’s Wheel

He had a kind face, the potter, a gentle demeanor and an easy smile. HIs shop was down a flight of rock-hewn steps that led into what, to me, seemed to be a cave. The British tourists that visited his curious set-up nicknamed him Peter the Potter. But we knew him by his real name: Ninu. It was my dad who would take me to visit. I would follow him cautiously down those time-worn steps with an eager anticipation of entering a world which was totally different to what I knew. I could not have been more than six or seven years old at the time.
Pottery 003
Although Ninu was of the same generation as my grandparents, he and my dad always fell into an easy conversation. What they talked about, I could not tell you. Maybe they talked about the weather or about world politics. I cannot remember because I was mesmerized by the potter’s wheel. Unlike his sons, with their electrically-powered contraptions, he used his legs to turn his wheel. Round and round it spun and under his experienced hands, the shapeless clay slowly took shape. The muddy mixture oozed from between his fingers and flecks of it stuck to his work apron as he skillfully shaped it into a vase, or a flower-pot. To an impressionable seven-year old, the simple act of a turning wheel, a lump of wet clay and a pair of hands took on an almost mystical quality.
Pottery 005
I did not know it at the time, but what I was witnessing was one of the oldest skills known to  mankind. The potter’s wares were everyday objects in the ancient world. From giant urns,to oil lamps, cups and plates, ancient potters must have been very busy. But like the potter’s wheel keeps turning, so too does the wheel of life, and with the passage of time come many changes. Ninu the potter is long gone. His wheel turns no more. Three and a half decades later, the irony of the fact that as a child I had witnessed the end of things as they had been for thousands of years is not lost on me. In many ways, I mourn the passing of that simpler life, of that unhurried pace, that seemed to turn to the rhythm of one lone potter’s wheel.
Pottery 004

11 comments:

  1. Wistful post, Loree. I think there are ways to enter into that quieter, more deliberate pace and space today. I think, with your writing and remembering, you do it all the time.

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  2. Hello Loree,
    Sometimes these nostalgic feelings creep up on one without warning and completely unnoticed. A chance conversation, a picture, an object, even a particular scent can trigger a memory so powerful that it seems real.

    This is a tender post which reveals so much not only about your childhood but also about how you live your life today. What a gentle, creative person Ninu sounds to have been and, surely, there are many parallels to be drawn with you. Just as he created his pots by hand so you craft your words with a light touch and weave your own magic as he did so many years ago.

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  3. Your post makes me "sigh." Sigh because I really miss the simpler life when I was a kid. These days, there are so many issues to complicate things. Having not worked for almost five months now has taught me to slow down and to just do stuff that I love and miss doing - write letters and bake.

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  4. What a beautiful amphora, Loree, and what a lovely tribute to Ninu. I share your love of pottery - I tried it for a couple years and still remember how wonderful it was to spin that clay through my hands and see it take shape on that wheel.

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  5. Lovely post that makes me yearn for something I do not possess: time.

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  6. Brings back memories to me ! I did pottery myself, first on an old wheel like Ninu and then a modern one. The feeling to create something with your hands is wonderful !

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  7. Dear Loree - such a well written and heartwarming post. I too have enjoyed watching the old way of turning the pottery. It is such a lost art and now days one only finds it in old villages that are doing demos of the way it used to be done. Thank you for sharing your memories...it was as if I was standing in the corner watching a seven year old mesmerized by this beautiful art form. Have a great week-end.

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  8. Loree, I am late to this post. As with Suze's writing, I wish that you had a "subscribe by email" button.

    While the Hattatts have described any response so perfectly, I will just add that I truly appreciate the inherent rhythm in your writing. It is like that old wheel turning...

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  9. Your writing is beautiful and your words are well crafted. I can see that little girl, the wheel turning, the two men talking and I am witnessing the entire scene in front of my eyes.

    Beautiful memory, Loree!!

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  10. This is a wonderful memory. And you know my love of pottery and all it represents of our human frailty. Thank you so very very much for your kind words about the loss of our beloved basenji dog. She was such a faithful friend - our house feels so empty right now. I so appreciate you and everyone who left a word of sympathy...

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  11. A beautiful and touching post, Loree. Wishing you a wonderful weekend! xx, B

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Thanks for stopping by. I read and appreciate every one of your comments. However, I prefer to go back to your blog and leave a message rather than reply to your comments here.

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