Juana Gómez Ramírez
(Xhana Compash Otol)
Ceramic Jaguars, Pots, etc.
The village of Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas is a Maya Tzeltal speaking community located on the Pan American Highway near San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Amatenango is known as “The Chiapas Capital of Pottery” where local women artisans display and sell their works under covered arches along the side of the highway to passing motorists or from their homes/workshops in the village on a commission basis to specific order. The skills necessary to produce the unique pottery of Amatenango have historically been passed down from mother to daughter over the generations.
This passing down of the skills necessary to become an accomplished potter in the Amatenango tradition is the tradition represented by our guest artisans Juana Gómez Ramírez (known in Amatenango as Xhana Compash Otol) and her mother Feliciana Ramírez (“Otol” in Tzeltal) who present their clay productions of birds, jaguars, jaguar masks, water jars and other items they have produced in their home workshop.
It is the women of Amatenango who make the pottery for which the village is famed while the men follow traditional agricultural pursuits although the men may participate in pottery making by helping the women paint the finished works.
Juana Gómez Ramírez was born in 1982 and has been making clay figures since she was eight years old receiving her training under her mother, Feliciana Ramírez Gómez, born in 1964. Feliciana was married at 16 to a local farmer and began her career as a potter making water jars, chimeneas and flower pots in the shape of doves to supplement the family´s meager and seasonal income from farming.
When Juana was still a child, her father abandoned the family and the pottery made by Juana and her mother became their primary source of income. They had to travel to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Comitán and Villa Flores carrying their wares on their back.
Juana´s studio is a family affair and includes her mother Doña Feliciana, husband, Feliciano, brother-in-law, Vincente, her two brothers, Pedro and Juan and one of her three sons, Reynaldo. Juana oversees and controls the work of all family members, however, each signs their own work and features their own unique style.
Celestino Gómez Ramírez
Tomás Gómez Ramírez