The Biot Jar - An ancient French tradition
History of Biot Jars
Earthenware vases have been made in Biot, a town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region near Antibes, since the Middle Ages. Artisans from Biot followed ancient techniques to craft pottery. Jars from Biot served a purely practical purpose originally. They were created to store and transport food and liquid such as olives and oil. Not only has the quality of the craftsmanship stood the test of time, but the sublime and simple shape has as well. The famous Biot Vase is still highly sought after as a decorative item today (credit: The Office of Tourism in Biot).
Discover Chez Pluie's amazing collection of antique pots. Chez Pluie has available for purchase online 18th and 19th century French biot jars.
Characteristics of Biot jars
Biot jars are round, bulbous vessels and made from terracotta endemic to the town of Biot in southern France. Terracotta from this area is an unusual beige color. As Biot jars were traditionally used to preserve olives, the rim around the neck of the urns always is glazed. This prevented olives and oil from seeping into the terracotta. This interior glaze is a definining feature of Biot jars. The jar was sealed traditionally with a wooden lid or bouchon - sometimes it is still possible to unearth the original lids.
How to make a Biot jar
The technique for making Biot jars is fascinating. To give a brief summary, first a wooden armature is assembled and ropes are wound around the framework. Wet clay is then 'thrown' over the tightly-wrapped rope.
The ancient technique of rope-thrown pottery uses timber spines wrapped in a coil of rope then clay is applied by hand. The largest biot jars weigh up to 150 kilograms or 330 pounds.
Once the clay begins to dry and hold its shape, the rope is carefully unwound and the timbers removed. The rope makes a beautiful horizontal pattern on the inside of the jar, which creates a lovely texture.
Traditionally-made Biot Jars are all hand-crafted using the rope-thrown method and are imprinted with the atelier's seal. To learn more about the mesmerizing making process see "Building a Jar" by Lauren Kearns.
Biot-style jars made in Anduze
Bespoke Biot Jars can be ordered online through Chez Pluie. Artisans in Anduze will make your jar exclusively by hand following the traditional methods for making Biot jars that date to the Neolithic period.
Biot Jars made by artisans in Anduze brand their vessels with a shell. The exact same shell is used to brand each piece and embodies the pride and skill of the craftsman who create them.
Our pottery can be found at the Château of Versailles, Château de Mons, Château de Flaugergues and the Manor of the Garde. Biot jars and pottery made by the artisanal workshops of Anduze also line the streets of Nice on the Côte d'Azur and the exquisite village of Montpellier. These historic landmarks and discerning clients demand the best quality.
Image credit: Design by Pam Pierce, photographed by Peter Vitale.
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I love the design, colour and texture of your unique handmade pots. They carry such a weight and character to them that almost reminds me of ancient civilization. I live in Canada and don’t know where I can see beautiful pieces here. Any advice? Thanks
Dear Sir or Madam
I am interested in a small – medium biot jars.