Mexican Talavera Pottery Declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity

12/12/2019

Plates, vases, vases, vases, and tiles cease to be common items when they are made of Talavera pottery, a five-century pottery tradition from Spain that later arrived in Mexico, where it acquired its own identity, mainly in the state of Puebla, where there has been an evolution in the designs, which are beginning to be saturated with flowers with great color and greater definition, until they become part of contemporary artistic movements.

Mexican Talavera Pottery Declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Photo: El Sol de Puebla
Mexican Talavera Pottery Declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Photo: El Sol de Puebla

The crafts of Spain and Mexico were declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Bogota, the first Latin American capital to host the special committee that makes this decision.

This pottery "is the material representation of our identity, which is shared with the artisans of Talavera de la Reina and El Puente del Arzobispo," said the representative of Mexico after the announcement.

Pottery owes its name to the Castilian city of Talavera de la Reina, which has a very long pottery tradition that emerged from the period of Islamic domination of the Iberian Peninsula.

The earthenware and tiles of that city and the neighboring town of El Puente del Arzobispo knew their splendor in the 17th and 18th centuries when, under Chinese influence, they adopted white and cobalt blue as their predominant colors.

The themes deployed throughout history are diverse: hunting scenes, plant motifs, landscapes, and heraldry.

Juan Antonio Froilán, manager of Alfar El Carmen, a workshop founded in 1849 in Toledo, Spain, tells the AFP agency that the peculiarity of this pottery is that it arises from "artistic pottery, while the others are popular" and less sophisticated in their design.

The tradition came to America in the 16th century, when what is now Mexico was the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

At that time, many Spaniards settled in the central region of Puebla, which to date has a colonial tradition important for its architecture and gastronomy. For that reason, it is still known as Talavera Poblana to the crafts.

The pieces are made on a lathe and have a special enamel that allows the artisan to draw and paint on it, which gives it its characteristic ornamental image.

According to the Mexican specialist Emma Yanes, Spanish artisans took advantage of the knowledge of indigenous peoples in the handling of clay, which resulted in the craftsmanship that is known today.

The regions that traditionally produce it in Mexico are the municipalities of Atlixco, Puebla, Cholula, and Tecali in Puebla, as well as San Pablo del Monte, in the neighboring state of Tlaxcala. The work of the artisans in these areas has been protected since 1995 by a Denomination of Origin.

Talavera in Mexico has also served as decoration for buildings such as the Casa de los Azulejos in downtown Mexico City, an 18th-century palace that today houses a restaurant.

UNESCO receives hundreds of nominations annually from the 178 states that ratified the convention, but agrees to consider just under 50.

While entry on this list gives them a distinctive seal, the declaration is only the most visible part of the process, whose ultimate goal is the protection of cultural diversity in the face of increasing globalization.

By Mexicanist Source: AFP