PHOTOS: The Art of Talavera

by Lesley Peterson

The UNESCO World Heritage city of Puebla, Mexico, is a perfect example of Spanish colonial urban planning—and a feature of its rich architectural heritage is the eye-catching polychrome tile, called talavera, that adorns many of the churches and other colonial-era buildings in the city’s historic heart.

Talavera pottery has its roots in Spain, taking its name from the city of Talavera de la Reina, a major centre of ceramics production. Brought to Mexico in the 16th century, talavera’s intricate glazed patterns reflect Spanish, Moorish and even Chinese influences. The clay in Puebla state proved perfect for producing talavera, an industry that still thrives today, a prime expression of Pueblan artistry and craftsmanship.

Six companies in Puebla produce authentic talavera, marked DO4, one of only 11 made-in-Mexico products to receive national denominación de origen certification. Whether you take a talavera factory tour, ogle the historical collection at the Museo José Luis Bello y González or simply wander Puebla’s atmospheric streets, you’re sure to be surrounded—and enchanted—by this distinctive art form.

The Art of Talavera


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