chapter  III
'Watched Pots'
Pages 26

The last chapter showed how for historical reasons Greek vases - painted with figures, floral and geometric decoration - began to be studied, and to some extent are still studied, primarily as art objects. 'Art' is a dangerous word, especially if it is art with a capital A and especially if used of pottery, as it can conjure up such diverse images: today if the subject is pottery as art, one is likely to think in terms of Bernard Leach or Lucie Rie. 'Art' earlier meant 'craft', an acquired skill, not necessarily related to painting or sculpture (the 'fine arts', as we might still call them and linked with aesthetics (see Taylor et al. 1994)). The English poet, John Milton, could refer to the Italian astronomer and experimental philosopher Galileo as 'the Tuscan artist'. We derive our word art from the Latin 'ars'; when we go back to the Greek language, we meet a word that takes us nearer to the older idea we need in connection with pottery: 'techne' - skill, technical ability, craftsmanship. The Greeks had no separate word for art - each maker displayed his own 'techne', whether he be blacksmith, cook, metalworker, sculptor, potter or painter.