The Santander family and its pottery tradition.

Much of Trinidad’s earthenware bra has a unique seal. It is so unique and special that much of the world is recognized. And it is that the Santander family molds the clay with the warmth of the heart. Thus, vessels, ornamental elements, costume jewelery, reproductions of antique keyholes, dressers, knockers or padlocks are born from the cities of Trinidad and Sancti Spíritus, both with more than five centuries of history and very unique architecture, all inheriting a powerful tradition, which has not yet found similarities in another region of Cuba.

By: Froilán Fontela Oviedo.

The history of that Santander family

Has grown between the twists and turns of the third village on this Caribbean island. Those who live there affirm that it was a Spanish immigrant, at the end of the 19th century, who handed over the keys to pottery. A little before, according to a census of 1846, 25 potters already lived in that town with their rustic winches moved by the foot and the stubborn smeared with mud from the nearby caves. But, the genesis of what is known today as the Santander, was born a little later.

A true legend was molded from its then rustic lathe, with the smell of “shell”. Well, from hand to hand, for several generations, -from the bombastic name that grew with each piece taken from the oven-, a legend is woven that transcends national borders, not only for the purchases of foreigners who come to the Talleres Santander, but for its multiple recognitions.

Tiles, bricks, jars and other elements of the Santander family creation

But the origins warn that first, they gave the old city, located in the south of the province of Sancti Spíritus, construction materials such as tiles, bricks and lime. Then they joined the adventure of the vases, jars, water filters, jugs and pots. Today they are makers of true works of art, where the rustic of the clay is set aside.

So much so, that the family, most of them the exponent of the Craft Master’s Award of the National Center of Crafts of the Cuban Fund for Cultural Assets (FCBC for its Spanish acronym), in 2006, has defended an art born at the dawn of humanity and that currently in Cuba also retains remarkable roots in Camagüey and Havana.

But, in Trinidad, mentioning that trade refers in a blink of an eye to the Santander clan: Oscar, Chichi, Azariel, José Enrique, Coqui … In their homes they have created a kind of gallery-workshop where dozens of tourists come, attracted by the taste of tradition.

Each of them knows by heart how complex pottery is. The path of the mud is born in caves. They bring it as dirt to the patios, where it is first purified with a mesh to remove stones and leaves. Then they dry it to release the water and when it becomes hard as a paste they form it into plasticine balls and thus the so-called pellets are born, ready to work.

How are the pottery pieces made whit ?

The pieces are made on the lathe or by hand, and the colors arise from the sum of metallic oxides such as manganese, cobalt, chromium, iron and zinc that are added in paste form before cooking the work and give a matte, smooth surface. in a process known as burnishing or satin.

The Santander, owners of the reign of mud in Trinidad, with their works already scattered throughout the world, do not hide the secrets of the enduring. They have occupied several artistic salons: municipal, provincial, national and international.

In addition to marketing, his art adorns the unique beauty of the third Cuban town founded by the Spanish. In his very heart beats part of his own magic: the pots that crown the balustrade of the Plaza Mayor, more than forty years ago were manufactured by that family. Every certain tirempo, their descendants are the only hands capable of making them coexist in modernity.

Without being a specialist in the field, you can identify the Santander pottery seal. It is represented in burnishing, after manual polishing based on stone before entering the oven for firing. Some painted and lacquered pieces overwhelm with such a fine finish that, according to what the most experienced members of the family have commented in several interviews, depends to a large extent on the proper cooking time that “by eye of a good cubero”, according to the famous Cuban saying, knows how to calculate accurately.

The exact and secret formula of pottery.

And is that the exact formula arises from pride and commitment to family tradition, that attachment to pottery, loyalty to work and creativity, without dodging a solid tradition that survives them as their most precious heritage.

Trinitarians of pure stock, inheritors of the mastery of a city that, detained in time, gives you each new visit a new discovery between the passionate kiss of the past and present. A distinction that is also present in each creation of a brood of Carmelite hands furrowed by the remains of the clay.

Precisely, that talent that has not understood the passage of time prevailed over those stereotypes that belittled pottery as a minor occupation. Today it stands as a tourist product in high demand, which, from the land, the Santander have been building spontaneously from the land itself: the family of a family.

El Cubita Santander: extension of pottery art.

The Cubita Santander Restaurant is an extension of the pottery art that proliferates in this area of ​​Cuba. The owners Elmer Santander Marcos Santander and Luanis López Santander, belong to the most outstanding family of ceramic artists in the city: The Santander Family. Some of the clay creations of these incredible potters will accompany your stay or carry elaborations that combine the flavor of the Island and the pottery tradition of the city.

Our restaurant is the carrier of this centuries-old tradition. In each of the spaces you will find the peculiarity of the art of those who work true beautiful works with their hands and clay. The decoration and dishes used are unique within the spectrum of Trinitarian spaces. Why? Because at the table you will not only have the best flavors and combination of natural and fresh products, but also the very tradition of a family that only by name already identifies Trinidad: The Santander Family.

Get ready to visit us and discover for yourself the new Cuban cuisine that we propose, always accompanied by Santander ceramics.