Mexico's Treasured Ceramics Through Time and Artistry

Explore the rich history and diverse artistic expression of Mexican ceramics. Learn about the techniques, materials, and influences that have shaped this indigenous craft and where to find the best examples in cities.

Mexico's Treasured Ceramics Through Time and Artistry
Mexican pottery is known for its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and high-quality craftsmanship. Images by DALL·E

Mexican ceramics is a rich and diverse form of indigenous artistic expression that has evolved over centuries. It has roots in the ancient Mexican civilizations, which created numerous ceramic pieces for both practical and ceremonial uses with much imagination and creativity. With the arrival of Spanish and European influences, the tradition expanded, with new techniques and styles being introduced.

Today, Mexican ceramics are produced all over the country, with different regions showcasing their unique styles, techniques, and themes. This introduction talks about some of the best places for Mexican ceramics, like the states of Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, and others, as well as some of the most important cities in these states.

Mexico's Clay Masterpieces: A Fusion of Imagination, Culture, and Tradition

Ceramics is one of the most deeply-rooted indigenous artistic expressions. The ancient Mexicans elaborated an infinite number of ceramic pieces—for domestic or ritual use—in which they used their most fertile imagination. Many of them can be admired in museums in Mexico and other countries.

The arrival of Spanish and European influences enriched this artistic expression, resulting in a great variety of shapes, textures, decorations, finishes, glazes, etc. Currently, ceramics are produced throughout the national territory. The techniques brought by the Spaniards, such as the use of the mold and the hand and foot wheel, helped its development, although the imagination and skill of the potters are undoubtedly the most important.

The process is simple. The pieces, already modeled, are fired in kilns at ground level or below, depending on the region. After the pieces have been fired, comes the fun part: decorating them. The artist draws on his dreams and fantasies; he turns to nature, and a bird or a flower is the decorative element, although these themes are as varied as the imagination allows.

The paint is made with vegetable, mineral, and even vinyl materials and is applied with chicken feathers, human hair, squirrel tail hair, rags, sticks, bits of reed, or simply with the fingers. Burnishing is achieved with pyrites, agates, river stones, reeds, hard seeds, or pewter spoons.

In Mexican ceramics, we find, in addition to the indigenous influence, the Spanish influence (as in the majolica ware, known as Talavera), and the oriental influence (expressed in the "pigeon-breasted" tibores), among others. This diversity of manifestations is what has forged the beauty that characterizes it and makes this Mexican handicraft one of the most admired in the world. Let's look at some of its best manifestations and where we can find them in the country.

Mexican ceramic is a unique and beautiful addition to any home decor or collection.
Mexican ceramic is a unique and beautiful addition to any home decor or collection.

State of Guanajuato

Located in the center of the republic, it holds an outstanding place in Mexican history since the War of Independence began there. It preserves first place in artistic production, including ceramics. It is a region with good clay and a great tradition in this type of craft.

Guanajuato City

Its products are of exceptional beauty and quality, with a focus on majolica-style earthenware for ornamental and domestic purposes, such as pots with lids and flowerpots. The "pozolero" deep plates and bowls, decorated with flowers and animals or in beautiful green tones, are famous. The capital of Guanajuato is a true jewel of colonial architectural art. Other attractions include the La Valenciana mine and the famous Cervantino International Festival.

Dolores Hidalgo

Among a great variety of pieces, the dishes with polychrome designs and figures stand out. Also worth mentioning are the beautiful black pottery with clay applications in the same tone or different colors, as well as the tableware whose fame goes beyond Mexican borders. Blacksmithing, saddlery, and lapidary are other crafts typical of this picturesque town, where on September 15, 1810, the priest Hidalgo launched the Cry of Independence.


This town, located 70 kilometers from Celaya on Highway 51, is an important pottery center with a high-temperature kiln that produces clay pots and other pieces. It is also famous for the elaboration of exquisite sweets, its colorful tianguis, and its proximity to the archaeological zone of Chupícuaro.

State of Guerrero

Located in the south of the country, its pottery preserves the ancestral flavor that the indigenous grandparents imprinted on it, having suffered almost no alterations since pre-Hispanic times. Known as traditional pottery, its predominant colors are red, ochre, and black, and it is decorated with totally rudimentary instruments. It is produced in indigenous communities, and its manufacture is generally entrusted to women. The state of Guerrero has places appreciated worldwide for their beauty, such as Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (both with beautiful beaches), and Taxco.

State of Jalisco

Even outside of Mexico, the fame of its popular art in terms of its richness and variety is recognized, as it is one of the most important entities in handicraft activity. Its pottery has a profound Spanish influence, both in its forms and in its decoration. When a tourist goes to Jalisco, they can be amazed by its beautiful handicrafts, colonial treasures, beautiful landscapes, the bright colors of its folklore, and delicious food.


Only 8 kilometers from the center of Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque has a lot of impressive pottery that shows the history of the area, where families have been working with clay for generations. In addition to the huge number of pieces made, each one shows the delicate skill of the people who made it, whether it's tableware, shards, or interesting miniatures.


Located 18 kilometers from Jalisco's capital on Federal Highway 80, it is the state's most important ceramic center due to the volume of pieces produced as well as the most representative work in this handicraft branch of the state. The locals work in a great diversity of traditional styles, such as petatillo and delumbre. In the burnished type, we find "de olor" "encebada", and "de bandera", as well as a great number of toys, piggy banks, and clay masks. On Thursdays and Sundays, the handicraft market is held, with a profuse display of beautiful hand-decorated pieces, among them tibores, trays, vases, jugs, chimneys, and the famous cats.

State of Mexico

Surrounding Mexico City almost entirely, the State of Mexico is characterized by its imposing landscapes, its abundant colonial heritage, its majestic archaeological sites, and colorful folklore, among many other charms that delight the tourist. It is the main producer of glazed earthenware in the country, no other region offers so much pottery of this kind for domestic use, in the form of crockery, pots, jugs, pots, and pitchers, as well as decorative objects.


Metepec is located 7 kilometers from Toluca on Federal Highway 55 to Ixtapan de la Sal. It is the cradle of the famous "trees of life", fantastic representations of the earthly paradise in which, amid an exuberant and lavish decoration, we discover Adam and Eve, the Creator, and the legendary serpent. The ingenuity and colorfulness of these pieces extend to candelabra and other highly original decorative figures. Glazed clay pots are also produced here.

Valle de Bravo

137 km from Mexico City via Toluca, this beautiful town located on the shore of a lake has a great tradition in ceramics. The specialty of the locals is "kitchenware", as it is called by the potters themselves. There is a workshop where high-temperature ceramics are made, where a large number of dishes, casseroles, pots, fruit bowls, and jugs are produced. None of these pieces are decorated with brushes since the glaze—which is quite thick—remains as decoration. The loral tianguis is held on Sundays. Valle de Bravo is a famous tourist center where the beautiful landscape, its Church of Santa Maria, and water sports invite you to spend a memorable vacation.

State of Michoacan

Michoacan is located in the southwestern region of the republic, and its capital, Morelia, is 303 km from Mexico City along Federal Highway 15. Many of its inhabitants are traditionally dedicated to ceramics, both as a result of the artisanal heritage of the Tarascans and the teachings left to them by Friar Vasco de Quiroga during the Colonial period. Michoacán is full of surprises and charms, from its natural beauty to its rich colonial architecture, from its famous folklore to its many handicrafts and delicious food.


Located 57 km northwest of Morelia, it is a producer of various types of earthenware, the most traditional being white pottery decorated with brush motifs that include figures of fishermen (with their typical butterfly nets) and guarecitas (indigenous Michoacan women). Also noteworthy is the finely polished clay pottery, whose decoration shows a clear indigenous influence. The production includes pots, bottles, and pieces for domestic use, as well as replicas of pre-Hispanic toys. Near this town, the archaeological center of Las Yácatas is worth a visit.


You will find Ocumicho 136 kilometers from Morelia on Federal Highway 15. Owners of a singular imagination, the natives of this town make pieces different from those made in the rest of the country. Figures in clay represent devils and animals that fight and devour each other amid infernal flames. This theme places this production within the fantastic or surrealist genre of Mexican popular art. Other local creations are dolls, figures of horses, and whistles, which, like the previous ones, are painted after being fired with polychrome enamel.


Patambán is 142 km from Morelia on Federal Highway 15 and is considered the most important pottery center in Michoacán. Its artisans make the best-glazed earthenware in the region, which is known as cambray or "eggshell" because of its fineness. From this place are also the famous "pineapples", water pots in the shape of that fruit. Copper oxide is used to make the glaze, which is usually steel green with light green, burnished red, black, and white details.

State of Oaxaca

In the southeast of the Mexican Republic, Oaxaca encompasses the isthmus region, and its tourist attractions—both in high mountain ranges and tropical landscapes, beaches, colonial towns, colorful folklore, and succulent gastronomy—are internationally known.

Oaxaca brings together the largest number of ethnic groups in the country, and its handicraft production has an evident pre-Hispanic affiliation. It is a state rich in languages, customs, cultures, and traditions bequeathed by our ancestors and jealously preserved by these peoples. Its pottery beautifully portrays all these values.

Oaxaca City

The capital of the state is located 516 kilometers from Mexico City on Federal Highway 190. It produces the "chorreada", a white earthenware, in which drops of color drip gracefully. It is also presented with floral motifs painted with a brush.

San Bartolo Coyotepec

15 km south of the city of Oaxaca, San Bartolo Coyotepec is an important pottery center where the unique and famous black earthenware is made, a color obtained in the firing process. Its brightness responds to the polishing that is given before firing. The pots, stylized mermaids, the virgins of Soledad—the patron saint of the Oaxacan people—and original bells, among other figures, stand out in this production. On August 24, the day of the town's patron saint, sophisticated dances such as those of La Pluma and Los Jardineros ("The Feather and the Gardeners") can be admired as part of the program of popular festivities.

Ocotlán de Morelos

32 km south of the city of Oaxaca on federal highway 175, its artisans make polychrome incense burners that are used in the festivity of the dead. The small figures on these things are meant to represent the souls of the dead.

State of Puebla

Located in the east-central part of the country, the state of Puebla manufactures a rich diversity of glazed, polychrome, glazed, and polished ceramics. People in Puebla have a long history of making different kinds of handicrafts, some of which have become famous all over the world. They also enjoy the many beautiful things about their area.

City of Puebla

Located 132 kilometers from Mexico City by highways 150 or 190, it is the capital of the state of Puebla. Its most outstanding ceramic production is the so-called Talavera or Majolica earthenware, one of the finest made in Mexico. In it, the oriental influence is present in the tibores and platones of blue color on a white background or in decorations in which birds with long tails stand out.

A very important part of this Puebla craftsmanship is in the wonderful polychrome tiles, whose beauty adorns many of the colonial monuments of this beautiful town. Puebla, the heroic one, speaks of Mexican history in its impressive colonial architecture, in its forts of Loreto and Guadalupe—bastions of the battle of May 5th—and the nearby archaeological ruins of Cholula. Let's enjoy all this and its legendary gastronomy.

Izúcar de Matamoros

Located 69 km from the capital of Puebla on Federal Highway 190, the most characteristic of its production are candlesticks decorated with flowers, fruits, leaves, and animals, in the center of which often appears the figure of San Rafael. They are commonly handmade and are naturally colored or polychrome.

Acatlán de Osorio

248 km from Mexico City on Federal Highway 190, artisans from Acatlan de Osorio produce a wide variety of handicrafts, including pottery. It is one of the most important pottery centers in the state and the country, both for the variety and quality of its production as well as for the talent of its creators. This activity dates back to pre-Hispanic times in Acatlán.

Mexican pottery also has a rich cultural history, often incorporating traditional designs and motifs.
Mexican pottery also has a rich cultural history, often incorporating traditional designs and motifs. It is a great way to bring a piece of Mexican culture into your home or space.


Tibores is a type of Mexican pottery that is hand-painted and often decorated with intricate designs and bright colors. It is a form of art that has been around for a long time and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Petatillo is a traditional Mexican pottery style characterized by intricate black-on-white designs made with a matting tool called a petate. The designs often depict various scenes and symbols, such as animals, flowers, and geometric shapes. Petatillo pottery is usually made by hand with clay. It is known for its delicate and detailed designs, which make it a popular choice for both decorative and useful pieces.

Delumbre is a type of Mexican pottery that is characterized by a burnished and polished surface and a monochromatic or two-toned color scheme. The process of making delumbre pottery involves shaping the clay, allowing it to dry, and then burnishing the surface with a smooth stone to create a glossy finish. The burnishing process also compacts the clay, making it stronger and more durable. Delumbre pottery is often used for functional items such as serving dishes, vases, and bowls and is known for its simplicity and elegance.

De olor burnished is a type of Mexican pottery that is characterized by its glossy, smooth finish created by a burnishing process. The burnishing process involves smoothing the surface of the clay with a rounded tool, such as a stone or an agate, before firing. This creates a hard and durable surface that is resistant to chipping and cracking. De olor burnished pottery is often made in earthy tones and is used for functional items such as serving dishes and platters.

Encebada burnished is a type of Mexican pottery that is characterized by its glossy, smooth finish created by a burnishing process. Similar to the process used for "de olor" burnished pottery, the surface of the clay is smoothed with a rounded tool, such as a stone or an agate, before firing to create a hard and durable surface. Encebada burnished pottery is often made in a range of colors and is used for both functional and decorative pieces, such as vases, bowls, and serving dishes.

De bandera burnished is a type of Mexican pottery that is characterized by its smooth, burnished surface, which is created by a burnishing process. Similar to the other burnished pottery styles in Mexico, the surface of the clay is smoothed with a rounded tool, such as a stone or an agate, before firing to create a hard and durable surface. Pieces of de bandera burnished pottery, like vases, platters, and bowls, are often made with bold patterns and bright colors, and they can be used for both decoration and use.

Platones are large, flat plates used in Mexican pottery for serving food or displaying decorative objects. They are usually made of clay and can be decorated with intricate designs and patterns that show off Mexico's rich cultural history.