the pottery centre of Margarites
Margarites, Crete - The traditional settlement, 27 km east of Rethymnon in the foothills of Mt. Psiloritis, is one of Crete’s four main pottery centres.
Many craftsmen still use age-old traditional techniques and skills, whether for small pieces of pottery or the large storage jars used on the island in the Minoan period, as evidences by the large jars found in all Minoan palaces.
The craftsmen, each of whom has a particular specialization, supervise the entire production process from the right choice of clay, the sifting and moistening of the soil, the gradual formation of the large jars on the wheel, their decoration in typical patterns, and finally, their firing in special kilns.
In the past, since these jars were not easy to transport, it was the craftsmen themselves who moved around. Groups of potters (from Margarites and Thrapsano in the Heraklion Prefecture) traveled around the villages, took orders and set up their workshops and kilns wherever there was a demand.
Margarites also hosts a Pottery Collection which is housed in a hall owned by the Geropotamos municipality, was set up by the very active Margarites Cultural Movement, in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Pottery in Athens.
The exhibition explains the entire process of pottery-making, a profitable but difficult craft that could be carried out for just a few months of the year, from May 21 (the last day of Saints Constantine and Eleni) until August 15.
There are models of stone workshops and double kilns, explanations of the types of clays, their particular characteristics and the way they were dug out of the earth, the proportions used for the different kinds of pots, the way the clay was prepared in stone containers and how the craftsmen kneaded them by treading on them with careful circular movements.
There are displays of pots and reproductions of designs, and photographs showing all the stages of jar-making.
Margarites Pottery Collection
Opening Hours: Open from early April – mid October, by appointment
How to get there:
Either by car or by public bus from Rethymnon.