Exquisitely painted some five centuries ago, a small brown stag appears to leap from the clay fragment I hold in my hand. Gingerly, I return it to its owner, the master of one of Deruta’s most historic ceramics workshops. He places the delicate shard inside a glass cabinet at the back of his shop, a vitrine filled with hundreds of vestiges depicting rabbits, cupids, nobles in profile, swags, and swirls. This curio cabinet is not a museum, the master emphasizes with a pointed finger, but the very lifeblood of his workshop.
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