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  • Manju Sadarangani


Updated: Feb 10, 2021


Talavera Poblana, Pueblo Mexico

(restored July 2020)

I am turning into one those horrible friends who hopes you break cherished pottery. This is terrible, I know. But when someone you love turns to you for assistance, and you can actually help, well. 'Tis beautiful.

I found so much joy restoring this piece. The fact that the scar was a peace sign was perfect.

This plate is the bottom to a flower pot acquired in Puebla, Mexico.

Someone so utterly dear to me got this plate on his very first tour serving our nation.

Talavera Poblana is distinguished from the similarly named Talavera pottery of Spain. It is a mixture of Italian, Spanish and indigenous ceramic techniques. Talavera Poblana is a Mexican and Spanish pottery tradition from Talavera de la Reina, in Spain. The Mexican pottery is a type of majolica (faience) or tin-glazed earthenware, with a white base glaze, thanks to the quality of the natural clay and the tradition of production which goes back to the 16th century. Techniques and designs of Islamic pottery were brought to Spain by the Moors by the end of the 12th century as Hispano-Moresque ware. From there they influenced late medieval pottery in the rest of Spain and Europe, under the name majolica.

Majolica pottery was brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the first century of the colonial period. Production of this ceramic became highly developed in Puebla because of the availability of fine clays and the demand for tiles from the newly established churches and monasteries in the area.

This process is so complicated and plagued with the possibility of irreparable damage that during colonial times, artisans prayed special prayers, especially during the firing process. As did I, while restoring it!

Authentic Talavera Poblana pottery comes from the cities of Puebla, Atlixco, Cholula and Tecali, as the clays needed and the history of this craft are both centered there. All pieces are hand-thrown on a potter's wheel and the glazes contain tin and lead, as they have since colonial times. This glaze must craze, be slightly porous and milky-white, but not pure white. There are only six permitted colors: blue, yellow, black, green, orange and mauve, and these colors must be made from natural pigments. The painted designs have a blurred appearance as they fuse slightly into the glaze. The base, the part that touches the table, is not glazed but exposes the terra cotta underneath. An inscription is required on the bottom that contains the following information: the logo of the manufacturer, the initials of the artist and the location of the manufacturer in Puebla.

This little guy has been to Warsaw, Rio, and now enjoys a lovely home on a windowsill in Washington.

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