Juana Gómez Ramírez
(Xhana Compash Otol),
Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas
The village of Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas is a Maya Tzeltal speaking community located on the Pan American Highway near San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
Amatenango is known as “The Chiapas Capital of Pottery” where local women artisans display and sell their works under covered arches along the side of the highway to passing motorists or from their homes/workshops in the village on a commission basis to specific order. The skills necessary to produce the unique pottery of Amatenango have historically been passed down from mother to daughter over the generations.
This passing down of the skills necessary to become an accomplished potter in the Amatenango tradition is the tradition represented by our guest artisans Juana Gómez Ramírez (known in Amatenango as Xhana Compash Otol) and her mother Feliciana Ramírez (“Otol” in Tzeltal) who present their clay
productions of birds, jaguars, jaguar masks, water jars and other items they have produced in their home workshop.
It is the women of Amatenango who make the pottery for which the village is famed while the men follow traditional agricultural pursuits although the
men may participate in pottery making by helping the women paint the finished works.
Juana Gómez Ramírez was born in 1982 and has been making clay figures since she was eight years old receiving her training under her mother, Feliciana Ramírez Gómez, born in 1964. Feliciana was married at 16 to a local farmer and began her career as a potter making water jars, chimeneas and flower pots in the shape of doves to supplement the family´s meager and seasonal income from farming.
When Juana was still a child, her father abandoned the family and the pottery made by Juana and her mother became their primary source of income.
They had to travel to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Comitán and Villa Flores carrying their wares on their back.
Juana´s studio is a family affair and includes her mother Doña
Feliciana, husband, Feliciano, brother-in-law, Vincente, her two brothers, Pedro and Juan and one of her three sons, Reynaldo. Juana oversees and controls
the work of all family members, however, each signs their own work and features their own unique style.
Pedro Celestino Gómez Ramírez: Juana´s brother, born in 1991 and trained by Juana to work with clay figures starting at age 11 works full-time on the production of large jaguars and large jars.
Juan Tomás Gómez Ramírez: Juana´s brother born in 1988 also started working with clay at age 11.
Vicente López Pérez: Juana´s brother-in-law born in 1991
started his career as a child playing with clay. He then left to work as a construction worker in Mexico City returning to Amatenango in 2009 to work with Juana and other family members at her studio.
Feliciano López Pérez: Juana´s husband, originally a farmer who
stopped farming ten years ago to help out in the studio. Today he concentrates on finishing work such as polishing and painting.
Reynaldo López Ramírez: Juana´s son born in 1998 who Juana
started training as a child. Today he has mastered to art of making Jaguars except for the heads and Juana is still working with him to teach him the art of making the expressive heads.
Barrio Pie de Cerro
Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas
992 103 6042 cellphone, 992 102 4385