An opinionated, proud and calm woman that oozes knowledge and energy: that’s a description of Mrs. Antônia Alves dos Santos, who was born in Jequié, Bahia, in 1905. “I think I’ve forgotten to die”, she laughs, conscious of her age. “I’m more than 100, and I still get up early every day to work with clay. I think I’ve been doing it since I was inside my mother’s womb. But I’ve been around. I’ve been living in São Mateus (ES) for 56 years, and when I first got here it was wonderful. There was a nice market, I used to sell pork and beef, and get by. I settled down, well and truly. I came with my husband, popping out children along the way. I’ve had 21 children, three times there were twins, but today only four are still alive.” Mrs. Antônia tried to teach her own relatives how to work with clay, but they weren’t interested. “I wish I could teach my family. It’s a tradition. I’ve taught others, but nowadays people want everything to be quick and easy, and clay isn’t like that. When I got here, I had everything I needed. Good water, a good life, and good clay from Pinheiro. Now people bring me clay from God knows where, and I don’t trust it. If you need to put a pot directly on a flame, I don’t trust it.” Many organizations and association have tried to work with Mrs. Antônia. “I know they want to help me. They’ve tried to give me an electric kiln, and this, that and the other, but I don’t want them. I have to make things like they’ve always been made. Otherwise, what happens to tradition? If I don’t pay attention, it can all become one big industry.” Formerly, she used to make between 40 and 50 pieces per day. Following an old tradition, she takes small balls of clay, kneads them and starts to mould. “My pieces are now a bit coarser, they are not very refined because I’m tired.” Apart from pots and dishes, she also makes masks, anthropomorphic bottles and animals.
Clay, 20 cm tall. Private collection
Clay, 40 cm tall
Clay, 10 cm tall
Clay, 6 cm tall.
Private collection
São Mateus
Conceição da Barra
Center West
Index and Addresses
Book's cover
Published by
Proposta Editorial

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