The History of Mexican Talavera Ceramic & Tile

The talavera of Puebla brings together a long artistic tradition with a millenary origin. Traditional poblano pottery originates at the time of the conquest. The process of making the talavera was influenced by the indigenous hand and that of the Middle East; Together they have made this profession an ancient tradition.

Talavera pottery is a tradition of Mexican and Spanish pottery which takes its name from the Spanish pottery Talavera de la Reina, which came from Talavera de la Reina, Spain. Mexican pottery is a type of majolica (majolica) or glazed earthenware, with a white glazed base typical of the type. It comes from the city of San Pablo del Monte (in Tlaxcala) and the cities of Puebla, Atlixco, Cholula and Tecali (all four of the latter in the state of Puebla), due to the quality of the natural clay found there and the tradition of production which dates back to the 16th century.

Much of this pottery was only decorated in blue, but colors such as yellow, black, green, orange and mauve were also used. Majolica pottery was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards in the first century of the colonial period. The production of this ceramic has become highly developed in Puebla due to the availability of fine clays and the demand for tiles from the newly established churches and monasteries in the area.

The industry had grown enough that in the mid-17th century standards and corporations had been established that further improved quality, leading Puebla to what is called the “golden age” of Talavera pottery (1650 to 1750) . Formally, the tradition that developed there is called Talavera Poblana to distinguish it from the Talavera ceramics of Spain of the same name. It is a blend of Italian, Spanish and indigenous ceramic techniques.

The tradition has struggled since the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, when the number of seminaries was reduced to fewer than eight in the state of Puebla. Subsequent efforts by artists and collectors resurrected art somewhat in the early twentieth century and there are now important collections of Talavera pottery in Puebla, Mexico City and New York City. Further efforts to preserve and promote craftsmanship occurred in the late 20th century, with the introduction of new decorative designs and the passage of the Origen de la Talavera Denomination law to protect authentic Talavera pieces made using the original 16th century methods century.

The talavera of Puebla

During the first years of the conquest, indigenous pottery techniques continued. Gradually, the refining process of Novo Hispanic ornamentation required the importation of majolica

The Mexican Talavera has acquired a soul of its own in a gradual process. It initially received strong indigenous influence, which was added to the influence of jobs imported from China and the Middle East.

The tradition of Poblano ceramics was consolidated in the 16th and 17th centuries. This majolica has become so popular in the new world that it has required the establishment of ordinances regulating quality standards to avoid counterfeiting.

With this, the current definition of talavera was formulated: “Ceramic typical of the Puebla area, made with mud and consisting of a ceramic body covered with staniferous glaze, decorated with metallic colors and worked manually on site”. In addition to the above, this majolica poblana must always be made by hand.

Currently, the glazed pottery of Puebla does not have the same meaning as the Spanish one, the Mexican production has strengthened its spirit and its presence in different sectors of Mexican life. On the contrary, the Spanish talavera is no longer a cultural symbol.

Therefore, the talavera plays a leading role in the artistic life of Mexico; His presence inhabits the sacred centers of Novohispan Catholicism, embellishes the typical dishes and adorns the houses. When we think of the talavera of Puebla, we visualize the beauty of mestizo Mexico. Talavera is sacred like every day; in its two artistic expressions meet: that of Mexico and that of all humanity. Thanks to this, today the Puebla talavera is recognized by travelers as the best Mexican handicraft.