Gift small jub, by Maria Fernanda Braga (height: 20cm)

The “gift small jug”, known by its profuse ornaments, was usually sold in gift shops and in popular festivals, that’s where it got its name. It was awarded in national and international exhibitions, and, since then, it turned out to be romanced and called the “lovers small jug”.

This last perspective leads us to symbolically interpret each one of the elements of this emblematic piece of Guimarăes’ pottery. Thus, the biggest jug represents the eternal abundance that we wish to the future couple, filled with illusions and hopes. The smallest jug, the one that will fill the biggest one, without ornaments, means real life, tomorrow’s uncertainties, everyday life, everything that makes the happiness of our homes, the family’s value, and the unconditional love of all mothers who are willing to sacrifice everything for their family, while men, who are absent, work in the land that will give them subsistence.

Each time a man had chosen the one to whom he was suppose to be faithful for all life long, and he was decided to ask her parents’ permission to marry her, first he would offer his girlfriend the “gift small jug”. If she accepted it, the compromise would be sealed and the only thing that would be missing was the parents’ approval. Once they had everyone’s consent, and after coming to an agreement concerning the dowry, the small jug was used to keep the golden gifts that the groom and the bride’s parents would offer. Nevertheless, the truth is that this use is no longer kept. Today, tradition is the only thing that remains.

Making the “gift small jug”... Maria Fernanda tells us how she makes them

“The gift small jug is a very exquisite piece of art. The whole process of making the piece starts with an elegant foot, then the belly, a tapered neck and finally the bulge. It has a thinner neck than the ordinary jug.

The gift small jug is made as one piece and not divided into parts. It is necessary to let this piece of art dry an overnight so that it can stand the weight of the ears that are placed in the following day. After that, the piece dries for one day more so that the drying is uniform.

The next step is to bathe the piece in ochre and let it dry again.

Then, some small cuts are made on the clay and the grounded mica is placed there, by using some moulds rose shaped. These moulds are just like stamps and are used to decorate the gift small jug.”

Translated from: PERDIGĂO, Teresa (2003). Tesouros do Artesanato Portuguęs . Vol. III. Olaria e Cerâmica . Lisboa: Editorial Verbo, p. 21.