Romanian Pottery

Pots and jugs; plates and cups; vases and pitchers; toys and whistles; bricks and tiles; all are made of clay. Mixing clay with water and shaping it is one of the oldest man pastimes and occupations of man. For thousands of years mankind enjoyed, used and benefited from those little clay objects. After so many years, pottery is still in use. Lots Many of us are fascinated by the pottery's large variety of forms and colors which dazzle the eye and bring joy to our hearts.

This booklet presents a few ceramic objects which that can be found in România. We start we a short introduction, then we present the objects by time period and by location:

1. Primitive, antiques
2. Central Transylvania (Korund, Corond)
3. South Romania: Oltenia (Huzeru, Oboga) & Muntenia (Pisc)
4. Western Romania: Banat, Crisana, Oas, Maramures
5. Eastern Romania: Moldova

Historical Preview of the Romanian Pottery



The Gumelnita Culture (6200-5000 BC) developed South and North of the Danube River, both in Romania and Bulgaria. It is known for the pots decorated through incisions, the main motif being the spiral. The clay is black and the decorations are white. Today, the main center which createing creating pottery in the old Gumelnita style is Vadastra.

The Hamangia Culture (5250- 4500 BC) is mostly known for its human-shaped figurines; it developed between The Danube River and Black See Sea (present day Dobrogea.)

The most famous Hamangia objects are the statues "The Thinker" and "Woman Resting", which today can be seen in the "Constanta Museum of Archeologhy Archeology."



Cucuteni Culture (5500-2750 BC) is named after a village in Moldova. This culture society is also known as Trypillian or Tripolye culture. Cucuteni's specific decorations were rounded shapes, like such as the spiral or the meander, also some triangles, all painted in red, with black outlines on the red background.


Boian Culture (4300-3500 BC) it is primarily found along the lower course of the Danube River in what is now Romania and Bulgaria. Boian's pots were usually black decorated with straight and zig-zag zigzag lines.


"Cultura Gârla Mare" developed around 1500 B.C. in the plains of Western Romania and Eastern Hungary. It appears that the pots were formed by hand, without a potter's wheel. The pots were reinforced with bands of clay. The decorations were indentations in the bands. A similar technique of reinforcing large pots with bands of clay was employed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the late 1800s.

"Cultura Basarabi" is considered an early Dacian culture. Basarabi is a village close to Bucharest. Basarabi Culture developed around 700 BC in Muntenia and South Transylvania.


Cultura LaTene Târzie (Late LaTene) reached the plains of Western Romania and Eastern Hungary until 100 A.D. We are presenting a bowl, painted in two colors. It was found in Pecica, Banat.



Early Christianity, 400 A.D. Legend says that Saint Andrew was the first to preach Christianity in present day Romanian territory. This amphora, of Greek influence, was made of yellow-reddish clay and was found in Tirighina. The tip is missing. (Source: "Christian Art in Romania" page 46. Book published by Romanian Orthodox Church, 1979.)




Early Christianity, 600 A.D Pilgrim's ceramic flask, . Source: Christian Art in Romania, page 238, book published in 1979 by Romanian Orthodox Church,


Early Christianity, 600 A.D. Ceramic Oil Lamp, with the sign of the cross. Source: Christian Art in Romania, page 248, book published in 1979 by Romanian Orthodox Church,


Early Medieval Time. Unglazed Water Jug, Garvan-Galati, 900 -1100 A.D. (drawn by hand after a piece at Muzeul de Arta Bucuresti)


Modern time Unglazed Water Jug, Baragan, 2000 A.D. (Common all over the Baragan)

Medieval Time.Wine Cup: 1400 A.D. Polished ceramic, then glazed (light green)
Drawn by hand after a piece at Muzeul de Istorie Bucuresti.



About Romanian Pottery

The shapes and decorations of the traditional Romanian pottery are not exclusive…??.., similar shapes and decoration could be found in the neighboring countries and only the trained eye can distinguish the tiny differences that make a certain pottery piece, let's say, either definitely Romanian or definitely Hungarian, or either definitely Romanian or definitely Ukrainian.

Nowadays in Romania most ceramic objects are produced in factories. However, today there is a revival in Romanian pottery. There are several places were pottery is still made in the traditional way, such as Marginea, near Suceava, Moldova; Korund or Corond in Central Transylvania; Vadastra, Oboga, and Hurezu in in Oltenia, South Romania; Cucuteni, Moldova; Binis in Banat, Pisc near Bucharest, and Vama in NW Transylvania. Every year there are several potters fairs (targ) in Romania: "Targul Olarilor" in Sibiu in the late summer; "Targul Mestesugarilor" in Bucharest, beginning of July, Sighisoara, and Turda; Targul de Ceramica Cucuteni 5000 in Iassy in July.
An interesting thing is that one can visit a museum and see a valuable artifact, perhaps a plate two or three hundred years old or a pot three thousand years old. A few blocks away, in the potters market, one can see the same plate or the same pot, same shape, same size and very similar decoration produced by a modern potter, which uses the techniques he inherited from his ancestors. Probably that explains why the pottery pieces made by hand and hand-painted, in spite of their little imperfections, are sought both by tourists looking for souvenirs and by pottery collectors. Not to mention the local people who just might need a plate to decorate their kitchen cupboard or perhaps a housewife need a big pot to bake stuffed cabbages.

We present the Romanian pottery in five chapters:
1. Primitive, antiques
2. Central Transylvania (Korund, Corond)
3. South Romania: Oltenia (Huzeru, Oboga) & Muntenia (Pisc)
4. Western Romania: Banat, Crisana, Oas, Maramures
5. Eastern Romania: Moldova


Page created and maintained by Elizabeth Pod