Paulina Jímenez Gómez
Antsetik s’pas ‘platones is a group of women from Amatenango del Valle the Tzeltal potter´s town 1-1/2 hours south of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Many of the women in town dedicate themselves to making jaguars, palomas (doves), decorative pottery, as well as traditional pottery used in ceremonies at church or for cooking. The competition is fierce between the women, and it is difficult making a living. The men mostly work the field and help the women with some of their tasks. A handful of men also are potters, but it is mostly considered a woman´s job.
Pauline is the head of this group formed of 10 women from her family — mother, mother-in-law, sisters, a sister-in-law, and cousins. A few years ago, the Instituto Casa de las Artesanías de Chiapas showed her some pre-Hispanic Maya bowls, then took away the photos and asked them to make some of their own dishes with the local fauna and flora. The results were quite interesting. This gave Paulina the idea to ask her group to make dishes with their own designs.
The changes have not been easy, as the women encountered technical difficulties, but Paulina and another woman from her group went to Tapalpa, Jalisco to classes at the National School of Ceramics and returned home with more ideas.
One of another woman from her group is also working with a well-known ceramist from Chiapas to learn different techniques, while continuing to decorate some of their pieces the traditional way with the red, white, and black from the local clay, and also using some of the acrylic colors for the more commercial pieces. The women are now working on glazes that will hopefully be done in time to bring them to the Feria.
This group will be the recipients of the first smokeless kiln in Chiapas in order to continue their new venture.