I had been told from when I was a small child that these plates contained the ashes of 'passed' relatives. I was told that in a time when families couldn't afford the beautiful glazed pots to store the ashes of their deceased loved ones in but desperately wanted to keep them close, they decided to start a family tradition of creating plates from the soil of the fields they worked. The soil was combined with the ashes of their loved ones.
This combined with water and other secretly guarded ingredients was made into a clay and then hand moulded into plates.
So that the plates held their shape during the drying process, they would often drape a flat stone from the river bed with a large leaf and then drape the clay over this leaf. The leaf helped to prevent the clay from sticking to the stone mould.
I also was told that sometimes, the plates were decorated with paint which had been made from natural plants. As you can see from the second plate, the painted design was crude and childlike. I suspect that they may actually have included the children in this tradition and had them paint the plates.
As generations passed, the family continued with this tradition and in later years, a miniature death mask mould was taken and incorporated into the plates. Over time, these plates took on a patina as a result of exposure to extremes of temperature, and were attached with varying molds.
RELICS & ARTIFACTS® "Facia Familiaris"