The Botijo Museum. Pablo Castelo Villaoz

Villena, Alicante ( Valencian Community, Spain )

History of the Botijo

The botijo, despite having been the subject of numerous myths about its Spanish origin and its Iberian roots, in reality, its history is older and more diverse than is generally believed. Over the centuries, the botijo has been a valuable resource for many civilizations, beyond the borders of Spain.

  • Ancient Origins.
    Approximately 5,500 years ago, fired clay ceramic techniques emerged in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean areas. These areas were the birthplaces of the invention of the botijo, long before it was associated with Spain.

  • Wide Geographical Diffusion.
    For thousands of years, from the distant banks of the Tigris and Euphrates to the Iberian Peninsula, people in the Mediterranean fringe appreciated and used various variants of botijos in their daily lives. In sites such as Puntarrón Chico, in what is now Murcia, remains of botijos dating back to the 5th century BC have been discovered.

  • Dry Climate and Creation of the Botijo.
    The need to keep liquids cool in a dry and arid climate led to the invention of the botijo. In the Neolithic, people already knew about baking clay to create containers that preserved moist and liquid foods, and they noticed how these liquids were kept fresh in some magical way.

  • A Knowledge Passed Down.
    This fascinating discovery of how fired clay could keep liquids fresh was passed down through generations. The curious minds of our ancestors reproduced this botijo effect in their containers, intended to refresh and preserve their contents.

  • Diversity of Origins.
    Although we cannot point out a specific place where the botijo was invented, we can affirm that in ancient times, it was used in Mesopotamia, the Aegean Sea, North Africa, the Near East and , of course, in the Iberian Peninsula. This use persisted for centuries across a wide geography.

The botijo, far from being an exclusively Spanish or Iberian invention, has deep roots in antiquity, extending from the Middle East to the Iberian Peninsula. Its creation is due to observation and the need to keep liquids cool in dry climates. Throughout history, various cultures adopted this ingenious invention, demonstrating its universal value and enduring legacy in human history. The botijo is a reminder of the creativity and adaptability of our ancient civilizations in search of practical solutions to the conditions of their environment.

Types of Botijos

There are different types of jugs depending on their shape, size, color and decoration. Some of the best known are:

  • The two-spout jug: It is the most classic and common. It has two water outlets, one larger and one smaller, which are covered with your fingers to regulate the flow. It is said that the two-spout jug symbolizes friendship and hospitality, as it allows you to share water with another person.
  • The three-spout jug: It is similar to the previous one, but it has a third outlet in the center, which is used to fill the jug. This type of botijo is typical of some regions such as Aragon, Catalonia or Valencia.
  • The straw jug: It has only one outlet for the water, which is a long, thin tube through which it is sipped. This type of jug is very practical and comfortable, since it prevents getting your lips or beard wet. It is preferred by shepherds and farmers.
  • The ball jug: It has a rounded and compact shape, which makes it easy to transport and store. It is a very resistant and durable jug, which adapts well to any temperature. It is usually decorated with geometric or floral motifs.
  • The painted jug: It is a jug that is distinguished by its color and originality. It is painted by hand with enamels and varnishes, creating varied and creative designs. Some examples are jugs with traditional scenes, jugs with portraits of famous people or jugs with funny messages.

These are just some of the types of botijos that exist, but there are many more. Each botijo has its own history, its own personality and its own charm. Botijos are more than simple containers for water, they are pieces of art and culture that deserve to be appreciated and preserved.