Marginea black pottery

Marginea village, inhabited by about 9000 people, is a national and world wide attraction for its black pottery which is unique in the world. Set in a beautiful landscape, near the mountains and surrounded by hills covered by thick forests, Marginea has kept its traditions. It’s a place where you’ll admire beautiful old houses built in the traditional way or different wells protected by intricate carved wooden shelters.

Marginea workshop, mid 19th century, Astra Museum Sibiu

Marginea became a pottery center sometimes in the 16th century. The pottery was crafted for food storage and other purposes. Marginea is crossed by the Suceviţa River and surrounded by forests and lands providing water, fire and clay for the preservation of this art. Before the communism era, Marginea had about 60 families of potters, but today only two-three families of potters are still practicing their skills, the most famous being Gheorghe Magopăţ.

Marginea is the only place in the world where the black color is obtained without adding anything to the clay paste. The ornaments are carved using a hard quartz stone, before burning the vessels. The black color is obtained after ten hours spent by the clay in the coal furnace. Traditionally, after modeling the vessels are burned in large pits of 1.5 m, with the shape of a cone with the top up. Along is a small hole, which communicates via a channel with the large pit. When the vessels become red, they are covered with a thick layer of wet clay, closing the channel and the two holes of the furnace, but the burning continues without oxygen, the vessels becoming gray or deep black. After burning, the objects are polished with river stones. This technique is unique in the world.

The village of Marginea has hosted admirers of its pottery, such as the Emperor of Japan, the Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, King Michael of Romania and many ambassadors, politicians, journalists, ethnographers, folklorists, and travelers.