Romanian ceramics compiles an experience that dates back to Neolithic times. The “Cucuteni” culture of this period is recognized as having one of the most refined and stylish potteries in all of Europe.
Nowadays, the most famous Romanian pottery is made in and around the town of Horezu, from northern Wallachia (Vâlcea County), on the riverbed of the river Olt. An age-old craft, modeling clay has become a real art in the hands of old masters, the inhabitants of this breathtaking region.
On the main street, called "Olari Street" (Potters' Street), one may admire famous collections bearing the names of those who gave life to the potter's wheel: Vicşoreanu, Mischiu, Ogrezeanu, (members of the Romanian Academy of Folk Arts), and others. Everything about this antique art is a family secret and at the same time a family business, since both adult members of the family are usually involved: the man giving shape to the objects and the woman decorating them.
The Horezu enameled pottery – unique to Romania through its chromatics and floral motives – is emblematic of the region. And, its ceramics are known worldwide. These objects preserve the local tradition and display Byzantine influences that have turned the craft into a brand for the Horezu valley. Horezu pottery is shaped only on the traditional kick-wheel, with simple finishing tools. Its burning is usually made in horizontal stoves using the oxidation technique, thus resulting in red earthenware. Most of the ceramic objects are decorated in delicate, yet powerful geometric and vegetal patterns, artfully painted by the masters’ wives, using 100% natural colors and ancient age old tools such as cow horns and goose feathers.
The traditional glazed ceramic objects are: plates, mugs, pitchers, bowls and even toys and flutes. The most frequently used colors in Horezu are brown, orange-red, green and lately even blue. Light colors are preferred for the background. They clay is prepared through a traditional technique and not used immediately. The clay needs to yeast for a while – big clay balls are broken into small particles through a wetting-drying process. The motifs are varied and many of them were preserved through time, even if they suffered changes in their representation. The most popular motif for the region is the Horezu Rooster, but there are other symbolic drawings: the spiral, the star, the snake of the house, the tree of life, the wavy line (the lost way), concentric circles, and the wheat ears. The traditional painting method called "jirăvirea" is a special technique used for adornment. This is made by joining the edges of a spiral with its center, while the paint is still wet. This technique allows the making of an infinite number of models that result from the combination of the colors that appear in a spiral and through the different styles through which this traditional painting method is done.
The town of Horezu houses the largest ceramics fair in the country, “The Hurez Cock”, an event that takes place every year on the first Saturday and Sunday of June. The fair is attended by craftsmen from all the pottery centres across the country ( Horezu – Vâlcea, Oboga – Olt, Vlădesti – Vâlcea, Corund – Harghita, Baia Mare, Hunedoara, Timis, Marginea – Suceava, Lungeşti – Vâlcea, Slătioara – Vâlcea, Miercurea Nirajului, Odorheiul Secuiesc, and so on).