A large antique, late 19th century Spanish lebrillo from Fajalauza (Granada),with bespoke metal brackets to be hanged on the wall.Please note that this lebrillos are all original and have been used. Some wear and tear with restorations, making them even more beautiful.
Brief history of ceramics from Fajalauza
The birth of Fajalauza ceramics occurs in the first half of the 16th century in Granada, ーespecially in the Albayzínー, where a type of pottery commonly known as Fajalauza ceramics is made. It is a popular production that over time has aroused wide interest, to the point that any of its humble containers can be considered one of the hallmarks of the city. The name of Fajalauza dates back to at least 1841. That is when this name appeared in the local magazine “La Alhambra (31-1-1841)”, fully consolidating in the 20th century. However, the productive activity is much older: its origins must be sought in the evolution of ceramics made in the surroundings of the Alhambra and Realejo after the surrender of Granada. A complex situation will then arise in which some elements will evolve, while others will remain the same, thus being the manifestation of a popular art, genuinely from Granada, which has already been in existence for more than five hundred years.
Indeed, the first mention that has been found in the documents dates back to 1517, and refers to the “olleros”, that is, the potters. However, these are already mentioned in a Royal Certificate of 1492. The potters who continued to work after the conquest were Moorish, whose names in some cases we know thanks to the documentation. The most significant, for the case at hand, is that of Hernando Morales, ancestor of the same family that currently continues to own the Fajalauza workshops. In the 16th century the city of Granada had 37 potters’ workshops, which in the 18th century, in the Ensenada Cadastre, had been reduced to 10. In the 19th century this number decreased even more, to only 8. One of them It will be that of the Morales family.
Ceramics of Fajalauza, therefore, is called the popular pottery in glazed and decorated clay, made in the Albaicín of Granada by a large number of different families, and with a pottery tradition that dates back to at least 1517.
It remained unchanged in a style and hallmarks characterized by the tin glaze and the decoration in cobalt blue-gray, copper green and manganese black-purple, with decorations with plant motifs –with the prominence of pomegranate, birds, interlacing and heraldic motifs.
Among his acknowledgments we can mention the Silver Medal of the Brussels Universal Exposition of 1910, the Ibero-American Exposition of Seville 1929, the first award for the ornamental plate of Cáceres, the Hispanic Society of New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum of London, the Ethnological Museum of Geneva, etc.
Our products are made following the traditional Arab technique of which we are its most faithful followers and proof of this is, among other achievements, the restoration tile cloth of the Patio de los Arrayanes in the Alhambra, the plinth of the main patio of the Ayto. Granada, the house of the Jew of Córdoba, or the complete tilework of the estate of the kings of Belgium in Motril.
The workshop building: industrial heritage
The main nucleus of the potteries was found in modern times in the area between Cartuja-San Isidro, San Ildefonso and Fajalauza. The potteries are facilities that require space for the development of their activity and in addition to raw materials and water. They also had a living space, where the members of the owner family lived. The house-factory on Calle Fajalauza nº 2, which is still in production, integrates all the necessary processes for traditional pottery production: settling ponds and clay maturation area, buried lathes, stoves and a reverberatory oven for elaboration of enamels, painting and drying chambers, and the magnificent “Hispano-Arabic” oven for firing with gorse as fuel. Likewise, the century-old factory houses “modern” improvements from the mid-20th century, such as the plate press, the mixer to mix the clay, enamel mills, etc.
The Fajalauza Foundation aims to protect and preserve the artistic and artisanal tradition of this ceramic, transmitting this heritage to all citizens as intangible cultural heritage and collective memory. Of all the old factories, those of the Morales Moreno family are the only ones that still maintain production today, maintaining the centuries-old tradition despite the ravages of the industrial revolution.
In 1517, Granada’s potters maintained a pulse with the authority on account of the lack of water, assessed with very high taxes. A document of the moment narrates the lawsuit and mentions a certain Morales among those involved. Barely 25 years had passed since the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs in Granada and, beyond the union problem, ceramics were in a moment of transformation: the artisans expelled from the usual neighborhood, in the center of the city, were resettled in a new one, on the outskirts; the newly arrived Christianity allowed the adoption of new designs and, also, derived from the same, the family customs changed and with it the use of these pieces. Those changes, not huge either, turned the former Granada Moorish pottery into the new Fajalauza pottery. A popular ceramic that was not born for palaces but for ordinary dwellings, and that five centuries later remains practically the same as in its origin thanks to the transmission of knowledge within the families of the potters who molded it.Among those families that maintain the tradition is that of that Morales who sued with the authority in the 16th century. They also preserve the factory in which they were installed more than 300 years ago, including the original oven, although somewhat deteriorated by the passage of time. To prevent it from collapsing, one of the family members, José Miguel Chemi Márquez Morales, has promoted the creation of the Fajalauza Foundation
, with the aim of defending the heritage that this factory houses: the intangible of the knowledge and the tangible of the clay. Granada potters —olleros was the name by which they were called then — from the beginning of the 16th century lived and worked in the center of the city, in the Realejo neighbourhood. But the new authorities had different urban plans for that area and, on the other hand, neighbours began to complain about the fumes generated by the ovens. Dozens of potters then moved to the outskirts of the city, near the gate of the Nasrid wall called Fajalauza, which ended up giving the pottery its name. In the area, Chemi Márquez says, there was good mud, enough water and a good exit from the city for the games that were sold abroad, which were many. Between the lawsuit of 1517 and 1700, it is not documented exactly where the Morales family worked. But yes from there: it was installed in the same place where you can practically see how the original factory was, the one that the foundation wants to protect and preserve.The change of location was followed by the design: the Fajalauza ceramics discarded some colors, “certain reds and metallic reflections that were used in the Nasrid era,” says Márquez, and focused on two, which are the ones that remain: green , obtained from copper oxide, and blue, obtained thanks to cobalt oxide. And in the background, a highly nuanced white produced from tin and lead. The drawings were reduced to flowers, “especially lilies and pomegranates”, he explains, “and branches, birds and little else”.Beyond aesthetics, the transition from Islamism to Christianity also brought with it a change in customs that had no choice but to transfer to the functionality of household pots: the Arab custom was to eat all of a central plate and Granada ceramics Moorish adapted to it, producing large and deep sources. The Christians already ate each one of their plates, so the Fajalauza ceramics were opportunely modified, placing emphasis on those individual dishes. Fajalauza ceramics were part of the household furnishings of all the houses of the kingdom of Granada. It was not for decoration, but for everyday use. Márquez explains that it is a “simple, non-noble ceramic for domestic and popular use.” The measurements were fixed. “There are eight sizes, depending on the use, which were also essential in the houses until the running water arrived.” Basin basins and other pieces of ceramics that, at least in the kingdom of Granada, were part of family inheritances. “They were passed from parents to children and, of course, if they broke down, they fixed themselves, they didn’t get thrown away.” For that were the lañas and the lañeros, capable of joining ceramics in a task difficult to imagine at this time. And while the Moraleses were always there. There are more than 60 Morales potters documented since 1517.
A few meters from the old kiln, the Cecilio Morales factory also houses three lathes, which, although they are not used regularly, are in perfect condition and that Chemi – also a potter, although only as a hobby – starts up from time to time. They are curious lathes because they are not the usual ones in which the potter sits on a stool. In these, with three centuries turning, the potter sits on the ground and must turn the great wheel with his feet under the ground. Chemi also shows a large deposit with clay pellets that have been resting there from the last 40 years ago and that this hobby potter is now patiently recovering. “The Chinese used to prepare kaolin to be molded by two later generations, so we may well use this clay from the previous generation,” he recalls.