When we look at the plates, jars, vases, and tiles, we can detect the confluence of several extraordinary cultures in this type of art. We can easily observe distinctive characteristics of Spanish, Arabic, Italian and Chinese origin, and of course the magnificent creativity of the Mestizos and Indigenous people of Mexico.
Arabic: in its designs and use of mineral pigments. Keep in mind that the Moors conquered Spain and had tremendous influence on all the artistic expressions of Spain.
Italian: it is from this Mediterranean country that the term Majolica originates, and it refers to a process that the Italians used since the 14th Century to produce ceramics. This technique consisted of applying or brushing pigments on raw or unfired glaze.
Spanish: It is from Spain that the technique is brought to Mexico, with a distinctive style that came from Talavera de la Reina.
Chinese: Because of the extensive imports from China to Mexico, Chinese ceramic was soon imitated, particularly their designs. You can observe this similarity specially on the blue Talavera.
Mexico: It is Mexican artistry and creativity that makes of Talavera, a contemporary art form.
It was during the 18th Century that Talavera “dresses up” with colors: green, mauve, yellow, in addition to the blue tones so popular in the 16th and 17thCenturies.
Talavera was not limited to the production of pots, plates, jars and religious figures. It reached other spheres of life in Puebla. The azulejos, tiles, decorated splendidly cupolas, façades of monasteries and buildings, and was the quintessential element of Puebla’s baroque architecture. They were splendidly used in kitchens, this fantastic culinary “laboratories” from which so many dishes were created.
It is a real esthetical treat to stroll through the colonial streets of Puebla and be able to see this splendid architecture, the marvelous creativity that reached all spheres of this city’s life.
The use of azulejos denoted the prosperity of the owners of a particular house or building. So much so, that a popular saying at that time stated that someone that wouldn’t amount to anything in life would never have a Casa de Azulejos or a house of tiles.
Now a days, Talavera is still very popular, and pieces of extraordinary quality that are very expensive are still being produced. Unfortunately there are also many poor imitations. When you buy an authentic Talavera piece, it must be signed at the base by the workshop that produces it, and it must state that it is from Puebla.
Talavera is the name given only to the earthenware produced in Puebla.
If you have a chance to go to Puebla, don’t miss the opportunity to learn and admire this centuries old tradition.