A XVI Century Tradition
Glazed earthenware is of Saracen origin; the Arabs introduced it to Persia and Egypt and later took it to Morocco; the Moorish brought it to Spain. From there it spread to Italy, France, Holland, Germany and England. The technique to produce white earthenware and tiles, later to be called maiolica, was brought to Puebla by Spaniards from the region of Talavera de la Reina in the province of Toledo. It is probably the oldest uninterruptedly produced craft in the Americas.
During the XVI and XVII centuries, maiolica (or Talavera) pieces were decorated with the traditional white and cobalt blue colors and enriched by the influence of Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and indigenous designs. Original forms included dishes, bowls, jars and religious figures. Green, orange and yellow were added during the XVII century. In the XVIII century, production diversified to include tiles, which wealthy people acquired to decorate walls, domes and facades. Many are still visible in the baroque buildings of Puebla, Mexico.
The development of maiolica has been enriched through time by the diverse cultures to which it has been related, such as the: Moorish, Spanish, Asiatic, and Mexican.
It is well known that the Arabs were established in Spain for eight centuries and that their artistic influence was felt notably. In ceramics, the decoration based on blue adornments on a white background is the most characteristic example. The impact of this influence was transported overseas between 1575 and 1700.
This influence has its own origins in Italian ceramics. Francisco Niculoso, known as the Pisanelo, was the most important propagator in the Spain of the XVI century of the Italian renaissance style. It is believed that thanks to him, the palette of ceramic artisans was enlarged to include green, black, orange, light and dark yellow. The additions allowed for new tonalities. Influence was first felt in Mexico starting in the early XVII century.
The principal source of this influence was the merchandise transported on the Nao of China and Galeón of Manila that came from the Philippines. The goods carried by these ships arrived at the port of Acapulco and were moved to Veracruz, across central Mexico, by mule, where they were routed to Spain. A considerable amount of the merchandise was kept in Mexico with its designs and forms being copied by local artisans.The Urn, a typical Oriental form, was quickly accepted by the local market. The most characteristic designs include people with oriental features, floral motifs and diverse animals. This influence took place between 1650 and 1790.
The Mexican or Hispano Poblano style, is the product of the fusion of styles and influences that had inspired the different maiolica decorations until the 1800’s. The feather-like ornament, called plumeado, typically related to the Talavera, is a variation of the oriental technique to fill empty spaces with floral decorations.