Juana Gomez, woman of the jaguar

Amatenango del Valle located about 50 minutes from SAN CRISTOBAL, Chiapas, is known as the CAPITAL OF POTTERY. Pottery in Amatenango is an activity and skill that has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is said that the knowledge comes from the Mayans who inhabited this area. Another peculiarity of this community is that the burning is still done in the traditional pre-Hispanic way, that is, over an open fire in wood ovens.

Today we are going to take you to the workshop of JUANA GOMEZ RAMIREZ, one of the most recognized potters in ALL OF MEXICO, called A WOMAN OF THE JAGUAR, famous for the creation of giant jaguars, the size of which corresponds to reality.

The jaguar, a sacred animal for ancient indigenous cultures, has been an object of worship and therefore represented in countless sculptures. Juana has always been interested in the movements and features of this feline to the extent that she reproduces them almost perfectly. “What are you making jaguars for if nobody will buy them? ” – said her mother to Juana one day -“ You’re just wasting your time, better break them and make pots! ”. But little Juana continued to reproduce the feline image from her textbooks and today she has become a famous artisan.

The creations of Juana are distinguished because the finish she gives them makes them look very natural, since she does not varnish them and she decorates them with black vinyl paint on a base of a natural colorant and earth itself.

Juana was born in 1982. Her Tseltal name is Shuana Compash Otol but Tseltal surnames are not accepted in the civil registry and a translation is made. Her father was dedicated to hunting and her mother for life, like the women of Amatenango de Valle, to pottery. Juanita began to make her first figures since she was 8 years old. It was for her like playing and she was making clay pigeons with her friends. At the age of 14 she began to make pieces for sale. The workshop began when Juanita and her husband Feliciano moved in together. By then, she already knew how to make pottery.

Her pieces have been exhibited in the United States, England, Belgium, Spain and Australia, and in 2013 she was recognized by the Banamex Cultural Fund as one of the country’s great artisans. Her work is part of the book Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular Iberoamérica.

Nowadays, everything that she produces together with their children and family is on request, destined for different parts of the republic such as Guanajato, Mexico City, and even abroad. Fortunately there is a shop next to the workshop where you can get the pieces of art of Juana and her family. You will see the affinity and perfection of the finishing that you will not find in any other workshop.

You can visit the workshop of Juna Gomez’s family during our tour of Pottery Workshop in Amatenango. You will be able to meet the great master, see the giant ovens, the pieces in process as well as the finished art in her store. CONTACT US NOW to book your personalized experience!

Have a look at the VIDEO ABOUT JUANA  and her work in Spanish by TV Azteca