Clayart in animation



A 5,200-year-old bowl found in Iran’s Burnt City in the 1970’s featured a series of five images that researchers have  identified as being sequential, much like those in a zoetrope. Giving the bowl a spin, one would see a goat leaping to snatch leaves from a tree, as seen in the video clip below. What is also interesting is the images were drawn in distinct frames, similar to a film strip.

The remarkable piece of pottery was unearthed from a burial site by Italian archaeologists, who hadn’t noticed the special relationship between the images that adorned the circumference. That discovery was made years later by Iranian archaeologist Dr. Mansur Sadjadi, who was later hired to direct the excavation of The Burnt City, located 57 kilometers from the city of Zabol in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan.


While no one questions the early instance of animation, researchers have been at odds over the significance of the earthenware bowl’s artwork. It was originally thought to depict the goat eating from the Assyrian Tree of Life, but archaeologists now assert that it pre-dates the Assyrian civilization by a thousand years. Maybe some budding entrepreneur had it spinning on a pottery wheel and charged admission to come and witness the dancing goat.

While this is a rare example of a deliberate sequential animation, other techniques were also exploited to add an animated look to pottery. The pottery of many early civilizations have images that depicted their lifestyles. Village life, religious icons and rituals, sporting activities and other pursuits like hunting were a popular narrative. Several panels on pots were sometimes utilised and pottery imagery became a form of storytelling and  historical documentation. The round surface quite often contributed to the perception of motion and added to the dynamic. Some pottery artists had the skills to create figurative imagery that was full of movement, sometimes supported by decorative patterns, which also have the ability to convey motion.

 Figurative and decorative pottery art have maintained their popularity through the ages and they surely stir up deep psychological connections with the past. Both form, imagery and richer hotter colours contribute to an appearance of kinesis and these possibilities are explored below. It is notable that from a Feng Shui perspective, ceramic pieces that express movement are useful for placing in Chi static locations as they promote chi flow.

Amphora vase, designed by Eduard Stellmacher

 Amphora vase, designed by Eduard Stellmacher

( Treadway Toomey )


A Safavid Blue and White Bottle Vase, Persia, 17th Century .

( Sotheby’s )

Beth Tarkington

Beth Tarkington

Birthe Flexner

Lidded Jar – Birthe Flexner


Sascha Brastoff –  red earthenware tribal wall plaque

( Eric Berg’s Early California Antiques )


Ceramic Mid-Century vase – Ruscha Milano

Claywork A Little CompanyTurtle Spiral

Claywork – A Little Company   …    Turtle Spiral


David Porras

Dragonware Plate Rayven Vintage

Dragonware Plate  – Rayven Vintage Etsy

 [ Dragons are generally displayed with a lively dynamic ]

eldreth pottery

Eldreth Pottery

Island Girl Pottery

Island Girl Pottery – Etsy

Jennifer McCurdy

Cut Wheat Vessel – Jennifer McCurdy

Rough Curly Vessel

Rough Curly Vessel – Nicholas Bernard

Light Blue Kelly Lynn Daniel

Light Blue Teapot and Mug – Kelly Lynn Daniel

Mata Ortiz-Paquime Pottery

Mata Ortiz-   ” Paquime Pottery”

Mitchell Grafton Brown Snake jug

Mitchell Grafton – Brown Snake jug

model wearing paisley silk.

Model wearing paisley silk Balenciaga gown 1954

( An example of a static pose, creating a sense of movement by virtue of composition )

Plate with a hunting scene

Plate with a hunting scene

Queen Tut Pillow by Gail Markiewicz

Queen Tut Pillow by Gail Markiewicz

Satsuma ware Vase

Satsuma ware Vase


Stig Lindberg.

textured-platter-Michael Kifer

Textured platter – Michael Kifer

( c2ceramics.blogspot )


The Statue of the Unkown Maroon –  Port-Au-Prince. Haiti

Vase--Elio Schiavon

Italian modernist vase -Elio Schiavon,  circa 1960

Villeroy and Boch vase

( Treadway and Toomey )

Chinese turquoise vase

18th/19th Century Oriental turquoise glazed twin handled bottle shaped vase

( Denhams Auctions )

plate by Mara

Plate by Mara – emotions expressing movement


June Kaneko – spirals always convey motion

Hercules and Hydra

Hercules and the Hydra Serpent

Jennifer Mecca-vase

Jennifer Mecca  – Vase With Orange Flowers

421px-561px-black statue

Gliding Kuan Yin statue

PierreReymond(1513-1584)French enamelist

Solomon Turning to Idolatry

Pierre Reymond (1513-1584) French enamelist


Three Raku BottlesAlan and Rosemary Bennett Cedar Creek Gallery

Raku fired fish

Alan and Rosemary Bennett – Cedar Creek Gallery

Deniseb Romecki

Denise Romecki

F L U X from candas sisman on Vimeo.



  1. Danny
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Who created the 3 raku bottles?

  2. robbie
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    If I remember rightly I sourced the image from a site called Aliexpress in China. The artist wasn’t credited.

  3. amir naser
    Posted September 13, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    very good

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