Soon after its foundation, Puebla was well known for its fine ceramics, especially for the style that would be called Talavera. This has been due to the abundance of quality clay in the region, drawing some of the best artisans. Between 1550 and 1570, Spanish potter from Talavera de la Reina in Spain came to Puebla to teach the locals European techniques of using the potter’s wheel and tin glazing. These new methods were mixed with native designs to give rise to what became known as Poblano Talavera.
The glazing technique of Talavera was first used for the tiles that still decorate many of the buildings in Puebla. Later, it was used to make pots, plates, jars, religious figures and other items. By the mid-17th century, the industry here had become well established. Guilds were formed and ordinances passed to ensure quality. Blue was used only on the most expensive pieces due to the cost of the mineral used to produce it.
The period between 1650 and 1750 was known as the Golden Age. Works of art good enough to eat off- that’s the essence of Talavera pottery. The Mexican pottery, which has been around for 400 years and is primarily made in Puebla City, is an artistic and practical achievement. Vases, cups, plates, serving bowls, and tiles called “azulejos,” are some of the items made in the Uriarte Talavera factory where the highly regarded, expensive pottery is hand made.
All of the Talavera pottery’s intricate designs must be hand painted by using natural dyes derived from minerals unique to Puebla. It takes several days to produce one piece of pottery. There are about 200 factory workers today. Other than the factory and shop, you can see the Talavera pottery on the colonial buildings in the historic downtown area.
Pueblan Talavera is one of the world’s select “Denominacion de Origen”, a geographic designation reserved for agricultural and food products of distinct characteristics owed to an exclusive area (like tequila from Tequila, vanilla from Papantla, Champagne from France, Pisco from Peru). The D.O. provides legal protection against less authentic products of similar style trying to take advantage of known products. D.O. applies to Puebla State and the Municipality of San Pablo del Monte in neighboring Tlaxcala State.