You’ll find them in many a Cypriot garden: huge, bulbous, clay jars, sometimes used as flowerpots and often found lying on their side. Known in Greek as πιθάρια (pitharia), these traditional Cyprus pots are the descendants of ancient Greek storage jars known as πίθοι (pithoi) – and assuming they’re original, they would have been made decades or even centuries ago to store water or foodstuffs such as oil and wine.
What’s odd about pitharia is their shape: cone-bottomed, like an inverted tagine, they don’t stand up, which is why they’re often found lying about, wedged into garden corners or propped up on racks like massive hanging baskets. In fact they were originally half-buried in the earth, to keep their precious contents cool.
Cyprus is still respected for its pottery: the street of Ak Deniz in Larnaca is a mini-hub of modern-day potters, while Lemba Pottery near Paphos is also well known. Traditionally, though, the main pottery villages were Kornos (now a busy village just off the Limassol-Nicosia motorway) and the more romantic Phini, near Platres in the Troodos hills.
You should also check out the Cyprus Wine Museum – its website has more info on the history of pitharia, while the museum itself is in the busy suburb of Erimi, on the old Limassol-Paphos road.