Mexican Ceramics : Mata Ortiz, Casas Grandes, Talavera, Oaxacan Pottery
Mexico has a very rich and ancient tradition
in ceramic ware. Several shards of pottery have been unearthed from the
hard soils of Mexico by archeologists, and some of these pieces of pottery
even date several thousands of years ago. These archeological findings
have helped provide a glimpse of the ceramic art that existed in Mexico
several millennia ago; and what is more intriguing is that the ceramic
art works of today bear the same identity that the early Mexicans have
Types of Mexican Ceramics
Mexico has an extremely rich and varied culture in ceramics art. Though
they are commonly termed as Mexican ceramics, in actuality, there are
several types. The following are descriptions of some of the major types
of Mexican ceramics:
I. Mata Ortiz Ceramic Pottery
Mata Ortiz ceramics are mostly pottery designs that are considered to
be the finest ceramic artworks of the world. Mata Ortiz pottery was developed
by Juan Quezada, who perfected the traditional art of designing these
These ceramics contain earthen and porcelain pots hand painted with typical
lines and curves designs, of the Mimbreno style, on varied backgrounds.
The pots are made by coiling the clay, using absolutely traditional methods.
The coiling is done by hand even today and the potter's wheel is not used.
Pots are polished and painted with luminous finishes. Even the firing
of the pots is done in a most traditional way.
Casas Grandes pottery evolved in Paquimé in North Mexico about
a millennium ago. These Mexican ceramics styles were mostly crude and
focused more on their utility than their external beauty. However, the
designs on Casas Grandes ceramics have retained their flavor even today,
and that is why they are considered as priceless. Some of the best antiques
in pottery and other forms of ceramics belong to the Casas Grandes school
or ceramics artwork.
Today, the designs on the Casas Grandes ceramic style have undergone drastic
changes, and lots of Spanish, Italian and even Arabic influences have
seeped in. The designs are mostly patterns of birds and leaves, but other
styles are also often seen.
III. Talavera Ceramics
The Talavera ceramics, also known as Majolica ceramics, are perhaps the
most celebrated of the Mexican ceramics art forms. The evolution of this
form can be traced back to Spain, with strong Arabic influences in it.
Today, the town of Puebla is the largest retainer of this art, but several
Talavera ceramics are also found in places such as Dolores Hidalgo, San
Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
The specialty in the formation of Talavera ceramics, especially the Talavera
Poblano is that they are made with two firings. The first firing is done
with tin glaze and the other is done with lead. The clay used for this
craft is always a mixture of two clays, which is then molded together
on the potter's wheel.
IV. Oaxacan Ceramics
Oaxaca is city and a region with a distinctive Mexican ceramics
tradition of its own. This region has black clay, which is known as the
'barro negro'. All ceramics made in this Oaxaca is usually black, embelished
with original hand painted designs.
Traditionally Mexican pottery was hand-built. It was generally low-fired
earthenware and fired without glazes, which together with the potter's
wheel were introduced by the Spaniards. Today there are several types
of Mexican ceramics that are attracting the attention of the world. Mexico
is one of the few cultures of the western world that have retained their
rich ceramic craft.