Lexicon

Bucchero

Bucchero, the Etruscan pottery

Bucchero ware, fired to homogeneous black, is a characteristic type of Etruscan pottery, unique in the entire Mediterranean. Bucchero workshops operated in many Etruscan centres from the 7th century BC. Their products are sometimes easily identifiable: for example, the shape of the amphora with broad flat handles (1) is typical of Caere. The wall of the vessel is extremely thin, the surface is glossy black, illustrating the quality of early bucchero ceramics.

Bucchero vases are generally plain, but decoration in relief is not uncommon either. The decoration of the two vessels from Clusium was created with a negative mould (2–3), and the animal frieze encircling the footed cup from Tarquinia (4) was impressed with a cylinder seal. Workshops in Orvieto typically filled the grooves of the decoration with lime (5). Bucchero was produced outside Etruria as well, in Campania under Etruscan hegemony (6). Shapes assimilated from Greek pottery are also frequent (3, 6).

Bucchero vases were exported in large quantities in the 7th and 6th centuries. As opposed to other Etruscan pottery types, they were on demand not only in the western part of the Mediterranean, but also in Hellas. The kantharos (7–9) was so popular that – influenced by bucchero examples – the shape also spread all over Greece, becoming one of the attributes of Dionysos.