Ceramic Army

Miniature ceramic folkloric figurines from Chordeleg, Ecuador

On the other side of Chordeleg, the Fernando family is busy making miniature ceramic folkloric figurines. Using special clay imported from the jungle, the body and limbs of a figure were rolled out and cut to the appropriate length, and a ball was hand-formed into a face. The painstaking process of making the face by hand limited production to 20 figurines per day, a number far less than the demand, prompting Mr. Fernando to develop a face mold that now allows the family to increase production to 100 per day. The daily scenes are full of detail- right down to the whole roasted pig picnic!

As Ecuador becomes more developed, fewer people are interested in learning these ancient arts. According to our guide, only two traditional sheep’s wool weavers remain in the entire country and, although Mr. Fernando’s children hope to become part of the business when they complete school, no one outside the family seems to want to learn how to make ceramic figurines. The day will likely come when all these items are mass produced in factories, but for the moment Ecuador is a veritable treasure trove of “guild towns” and unique handcrafted items.