Talavera from Puebla: History, Architecture and Art

Coyoacan, Mexico streets. Entre la casa azul de Frida Kahlo | Live Colorful

The national and international success that Talavera has had the passed years is undoubtedly due to the beauty, quality and the current diversity of the products we can find, is used to create items for everyday life, decorating houses and even as pieces of art in some of the most important museums in the world.

The shapes, proportions and techniques pertain to the personal tastes of every social level, at first the Talavera was part of the decoration of the homes of the elite only, with the spread of the dishes and thanks to the spontaneity of their decor and the easy way to create various items through the art, the talavera managed to reach all social categories. Depending on the tastes and the economic possibilities the artisans began to create smaller products of daily use such as plates, platters, tureens, pitchers with or without handles, pots, vases, water basins, sinks, religious imagery, human and animal medicine bottles, etc., or in other words, all sorts of everyday items.

It is called Talavera de Puebla (Talavera from Puebla) by the similarity of style with decorative dishes originally from Talavera de la Reina (Talavera of the Queen) from Spain. We can still not be sure with certainty that Talavera or Seville were the first to arrive in Puebla and create this technique and style to the pottery industry in Puebla.

The industry of clay and glazed pottery passed from Spain to Mexico in the second half of the sixteenth century. It is in 1580 when a large number of Puebla master ceramicists found local materials needed to produce high quality ceramics, Puebla as well as being one of the most important cities of New Spain as it connects the south to the north, the location of the potters opened the possibility of exporting their goods throughout Mexico and Veracruz.

The production of ceramics began to be popular with residents, each potter began to manufacture according to their tastes and needs, and began to innovate with products of different styles and sizes.

In the mid-seventeenth century there were so many potters that the viceroy was forced to create the guild of potters and regulate their trade. Thus, in 1653 in Puebla ordinances were drafted that set the conditions required to be master of the craft, including the separation of the ceramics into three genres: fine, common and yellow, the proportions in which the mud had to be mixed to produce quality parts and standards to follow for the asthetic, which stipulated that the painted china trimmed with black should be used to enhance beauty, also specifying attributes and manufacturing details. The third article, which reads: “Let it not be admitted to examination in the profession, to any black or mulatto, or other person of color, so that they are matter of great satisfaction to the Spanish people and confidence.” Interesting, no?

The process of talavera has changed very little, while the shapes and decor have gone though major transformations due to stylistic influences from different countries and eras.

Talavera from Puebla is the result of the ordinances of 1653 and extensions in 1682, which was considered a notable improvement, the actual glaze is a beautiful white, slightly milky, uniform, smooth and shiny, with strong blue highlighting and the lean features with polychrome combinations of yellow, green, orange, blue and black.

The rise and splendor of Talavera spanned from 1650 to about 1750, when it spread across the territory of New Spain, Guatemala, Cuba, Santo Domingo, Venezuela and Colombia. The strugle for  independence of the colonies, resulted in the discontinuance of trade between New Spain and the continued importation of English pottery and porcelain contributed to the closure of the workshops because they could not compete in price.

Current arrangements have been considered to protect the geographic area containing raw materials and characteristics of Talavera found in the Valley of Puebla ,in the districts of Atlixco, Cholula, Puebla and Tecali.

*Source:  MexicoDesconocido


About the Actual Talavera

In 1999 Talavera was recognized as a Mexican art form, and was registered by the Copyright Institute with the following definition:

Talavera: Typical pottery of the region of Puebla, made with clay and formed by a ceramic body coated with a thin glaze, decorated with metallic colors and manual workers on site.

There are 13 workshops with denomination of origin manufactured Talavera settled in the 30 municipalities in the Valley of Puebla: Puebla de los Angeles, Cholula, and Atlixco Tecali, some of the features are that the pieces are made with white clay kneading (extracted from the south east of the valley) and black (found in the 4 districts), are painted with mineral colors produced by themselves and their preparation is 100% handmade. the production of Talavera includes 6 different processes of meticulous application technique that last approximately 6 months.

1. Prepare the mixture of clay.
2. Dehydration and kneading.
3. Part molding by hand, kicked around and molds.
4. Jahuete or first fire.
5. Decoration, design and painting (all by hand with brushes of hair and feathers)
6. Second fire at 50 ° C.

*Source: Poblanerias

Talavera as Decoration and Contemporary Design

The Talavera from Puebla has great charm and impressive features that make it unique. All this and thanks to the contribution of the first Spanish potters and innovation with new and different products required for New Spain. It is the result of the union of technology and design of the growth in Mexico as the new world.

Talavera has endured through the years and even today is appreciated and valued throughout theworld.

Many of the pieces made by talavera represent pictures with stories of Mexican culture, religion, tastes and interests of the people. It has come to be used to beautify the homes of not only the elite but many peoples of various socio-economic backgrounds, churches, architecture and art of many sculptors.

Talavera in Sculpture

One of the Mexican sculptors who have used the Talavera technique for creating some of his pieces include “Los muñecos” that were part of the exposión “Talavera Contemporánea” 2007  in the Museum Franz Mayer. Another of his famous pieces “Bendita Infancia” 2008.

  • 2006-2009 Master of Fine Arts, Uriarte, Puebla.
    Workshop Ceramics, Sculpture, Modelling, Mural High Temperature, Maestro Javier Cervantes, Oaxaca. Tempera Workshop, Maestro Marco Bustamante.
    Workshop on Contemporary Talavera.
    Printmaking Workshop, Master Mario Benedetti UDLA-P.
    Encaustic Workshop with Master Acatepec Sandro Berger, Puebla.
    Painting, Printmaking and Washi Zokei, Lazcarro Maestro José San José del Puente.
    Institute of Visual Arts.

I hope you enjoy. Talavera is beautiful!

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