Colombia: Denomination of origin given to black ceramic handicrafts of La Chamba region
December 02 2019

The Colombian trademark office has granted a denomination of origin to “la Chamba del Tolima”, a type of artisanal handicraft made with black ceramic in the municipality of Guamo, in the department of Tolima, in Colombia. The news was announced by Ana María Fríes, Director of Artesanías de Colombia, and Juliana Márquez, mother of the current president of Colombia, Iván Duque. This statement is a recognition of the effort made by Guamo artisans for having maintained the quality in their craft for hundreds of years.

Made from a mix of three different types of clay that are found specifically in La Chamba, located near the Magdalena river, this ceramic is mainly used to create utensils for the home, like pots, pans and plates. These handicrafts are usually made by women who live in this area, with clay that is collected and prepared by the men. For more than 300 years the inhabitants of La Chamba have created these pieces, and this invaluable knowledge has been passed down between generations. Despite this long tradition, it was not until around 1937 that these ceramics started being widely known and used throughout the country, particularly in the elaboration of the typical plates of different regions. The tradition of using this ceramic around the country for this purpose remains until this day.

A designation of origin is a special recognition of a product that comes from a specific geographical place, and that by it being from this place, and due to the ways it has been produced for years, it has certain characteristics or reputation that make it distinct to similar products that come from different origins. This achievement, in addition to being a reward to artisan families that have been making these ceramic handicrafts for years, is a collective right that fosters the social and economic development of communities by bringing several benefits. Some of these include production process quality certification, origin certification, ease for consumers to identify original products, and increased economic activity in the sector.

This recognition comes to compliment the list of colombian products that have a denomination of origin. Currently, Colombia has 28 denominations of origin of agricultural and handicraft products. Of this list, some of the most popular ones are: Café de Colombia (coffee), Bocadillo Veleño (guava), Queso Paipa (cheese), Rosa de Colombia (roses), Sombrero Aguadeño (hats), Cerámica del Carmen de Viboral (ceramic crafts), and Tejeduría Wayuú (knitted products).