Louça preta de Molelos is part of Certified Traditional Handicraft Productions

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The traditional production of black earthenware in Molelos will now be included in the National Register of Certified Traditional Craft Productions, following a process initiated three years ago by the Tondela Town Council.

The approval of the inclusion in the national register of the production of this crockery – of which there is evidence since at least the end of the 19th century – was published on Tuesday in the Diário da República.

“This publication is the conclusion of an entire process that began three years ago with the presentation to the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training and the respective Advisory Commission for the Certification of Traditional Craft Productions, which in April 2021 issued a positive opinion, which is binding in a process of this nature,” a source from the Tondela City Council (holder of the registration) told the Lusa news agency today.

This meant that “from then on, blackware was considered certified, even though all the applicable legal procedures had to be fulfilled, which have now come to an end”, he explained, adding that “the whole process is now complete”.

According to the same source, “following the certification process, and in accordance with the legal specificities that an activity of this nature requires for its classification as a certified artisanal product, the registration of black earthenware as a product with a designation of origin was also requested and authorized by the National Institute of Industrial Property in 2021.”

As a result, he added, all that remains is “the decision to apply to the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which will obviously be the corollary of the municipality’s commitment to this noble activity of pottery and a tribute” to all the potters.

“This certification published in the Official Gazette is more than deserved, not least because of Molelos’ status as the largest black pottery community in the country,” he said.

The same source also said that “this order also recognizes the soenga as an important identity element” of the territory and “praises and distinguishes the traditional production of Molelos as an authentic living museum of this art”.

The soenga – the oldest form of cooking crockery in Molelos, (Tondela municipality, Viseu district) – is a circular pit opened in the earth that functions as an oven.

“The inclusion of Molelos’ traditional blackware production in the National Register of Certified Traditional Craft Productions brings added value from the point of view of quality, know-how, the importance of the originality of its practice and the preservation of all this originality,” he added.

The order published in the Diário da República states that Molelos “is one of the rare nuclei of blackware production, probably the one that still shows the most vitality today”.

“Its production stands out for its black color (resulting from reduction firing), the type of decoration and the shine given to the pieces, and there is evidence of the production of this black crockery since at least the end of the 19th century,” he says.

According to the order, in the past this crockery was exclusively utilitarian and “had enormous importance in the daily lives of the local population (who used it in all their daily tasks and situations), and it even served other markets and spread widely to other regions”.

“Today, a new generation of potters is seeking to tread new paths. Paths of modernity anchored in the traditional knowledge and techniques held by the old craftsmen, but where innovation, technical improvement and a more creative approach allow this pottery center to position itself at the forefront of ceramic work in Portugal,” he adds.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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