The ceramic art is one of man’s most ancient activities. Countless works have been created in our country using just a handful of clay and a little fire. From the definition by Giuseppe Liverani, a ceramics expert, who uses the term "ceramics" to denote "the earth on which human workmanship and the consolidating action of fire intervene, to transform it into objects with a practical and ornamental purpose derives the identification of the three elements necessary for the process whereby clay is transformed: earth, human workmanship and fire. Hence it may be said that the ceramic art is, above all, the expression of a manual activity which, if originally of a practical character only; subsequently however became primarily ornamental.
Its very nature, fragile, yet not perishable, has meant that in the subsoil of various areas inhabited by man, even in remote times, strata containing ceramic fragments have been built up over the years. A careful archaeological survey of these remains can provide us with an impressive amount of data which may be used to build up a picture of the socio-economic, as well as artistic, characteristics of the life of a particular group of people.
It should also be said that even though pottery, being an expression of human workmanship, is considered an artisan product, in many cases, over the course of the centuries, man has created unique artifacts of such beauty that they can be defined as genuine masterpieces. If the ceramic art is one of the oldest in the world, then Italy without doubt represents one of the most distinguished birthplaces of this human activity. In countless villages and kilns, new techniques have been created and tested, new clays experimented with, new shapes designed, new enamels and new glazes tested, new colors used and new decorations designed and painted. Against this backdrop, in a position of the utmost importance and distinction, lies Deruta, without question one of the most noble and ancient centers of ceramic production, whose name is in fact celebrated not only by scholars and enthusiasts but is now known worldwide.
For centuries its kilns have been turning out outstanding masterpieces, housed in museums, in private collections and antique galleries in all five continents, and today, more than ever before, tourists flock in their thousands to visit its factories, the museum and the artisan workshops lying at the foot of the old village, as undeniable proof that, despite the passing of time, Deruta has managed to preserve unchanged those characteristic traits which have made its name acclaimed throughout the world. Situated in the heart of Umbria, a short distance away from Perugia, it stretches along the Via Tiberina, which, following the path of the Tiber leads to Rome. Its strategic position in the vicinity of a communication route which has always represented one of the major road axes of central Italy, has indisputably played a role of the utmost importance in its productive development.
Historically; the fate of Deruta has always been tied to that of Perugia, as a castle of the larger city, and, on more than one occasion, was directly subsidized and fortified by the Perugian government. Its hills rich in clay, its convenient communication routes, the vicinity of such an important city as Perugia, were, as already outlined, probably among the most important contributing factors in determining the extraordinary development of its ceramic activity, whose origins can be traced back to the Roman age. It does in fact seem that whilst road works were in progress, a large quantity of Roman amphorae were unearthed, some of which are now preserved in the Town Hall.
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