I am often asked questions about the difference between Mexican tiles and Talavera tiles? Nowadays the distinction is quite blurry and the term is actually being used as a synonym, however, originally ceramic tiles were produced in South of Spain and this incredible technique traveled around the world as the fame of Mexican hand painted glazed ceramics was spreading.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the town of Talavera de la Reina became so internationally renowned for its ceramics that it got the name of “La Ciudad de la Cerámica,” or the “The City of Ceramics.” The Talavera Mexican design embraces different cultures that were leaving in Southern Spain at that time like Arabs or Dutch that contributed their art and craft to the evolution of Talavera production methods. The introduction of glazed tiles was a contribution of Islamic culture that reined the Iberian peninsula for eight centuries so Spain was the first European country to produce stunningly ornamented tiles, adding to the Arabic know-how the bright and cheerful colors of Spanish Mediterranean landscapes.
With the conquest of present Mexico, the production of ceramic tiles got very popular as there was already a long tradition of producing earthenware and Mexico is rich in quality clay. The Spaniards introduced a potter’s wheel and tin-glazing technique and Mexican developed the Talavera producing techniques to its best. Since then Talavera tile is simultaneously called decorative Mexican tiles and it got so fashionable and prominent decorating element that until today we can enjoy the most stunning Mexican architecture decorated with white and blue Mexican tiles. There are two production centers of Talavera tiles in Mexico. One is located in the state of Guanajuato in a small town of Dolores Hidalgo, the other one in the city of Puebla. Ceramic items has been made in the city of Puebla since its foundation, and any visitor to Puebla will swiftly observe the beautiful pottery that lines many of the churches and on the facades of historical buildings at the streets of the city providing the town one of its nickname, the “Metropolis”. The local pottery is actually recognized as “Talavera Poblana”. Our workshops are based in the Guanajuato area where the artisans are continuing this incredible and multicultural tradition of hand-crafted and hand-painted decorations.
So how should I call handcrafted stuff from Mexico? You can call them decorative Mexican tiles, Mexican Talavera tiles or simply Talavera tiles. Obviously, you should not call Mexican products made in Spain. Those are otherwise know as Spanish mosaics. Regardless the origin, all of them are an authentic piece of art and the blend of many cultures that used to get in contact along the centuries of world history.