Norma Oficial Mexicana
The Lord formed a man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul. Clay and water, mixture of elements of the earth itself blended by the hand of man. It goes from generation to generation, from hand to hand, the print of those who paved the way still alive till our days.
Ceramic, the heartbeat of human time.
Talavera, a mysterious word, as mysterious is, that men insist in obtaining from earth glazed and painted objects, that their sound when striking two of them sound like bells, and attracts our attention for their beauty.
Earthenware: tibores, vases, decorative pieces and tiles that we know as Talavera of Puebla are; beyond doubt, one of the most important themes of traditional art in my country.
Talavera pottery is an art, historically linked to certain spaces like the kitchen, churches, convents, facades, and interiors of houses.
As well as the workshops where it is born, after repeating centenary rituals by its artisans.
This art that is essential as sculpture, has also an internal space; that of imaginary, represented over its surface; this spaces conform a world where reality and fantasy communicate, where the hands that create, buy and sell ,combine with the hands that paint the forms of their dreams into an object. This is the world of Talavera Poblana, another world in our world.
From the Islamic occupation of Spain new artistic expressions flourished. The pottery tradition of glazed ceramic and porcelain of the Islamic world, was very popular in this region in which Cristians, Jews and Muslims lived together.
This transculturalization gave birth to the Mudejar Art
Talavera is a sample of plurality of races and cultures that join in Mexico, for in every piece of Talavera made in Puebla workshops; white, blue or of another color , Arab, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Mexican subtly appear as technique and design of matter, mute inheritance that speak to us by sight and touch.
Made with the hands, the artigianal object keeps impressed, real or metaphorically, the finger prints of who made it, these prints are not from the artist, they are not from one man, not even a mark. They are a signal, the erased scar that commemorates the original fraternity of man kind.
Made with the hands, this object is made for hands and for the privilege of sightseeing, not only can be admired it can also be touched, felt and enjoyed.
Among glazed ceramics made in America during Spanish domination, Talavera de Puebla stands out.
It is the most antique one and with a longer life, because it is still done as then.
It is also the one which was more diffused through out America for being one of the most important products of inter colonial commerce.
Documentary investigations let us state with certainty that Talavera production started in Puebla in XVI century,when colonizers found in the region the adequatebconditions to establish pottery shops. Among the first neighbors of Puebla, there were some masters from the Spanish region of Toledo, that in 1531 introduced this occupation to the city. Between 1580 and 1585, master Gaspar de Encinas had a pottery workshop in the “Calle de Herreros”. Examining other documents we can observe that every year an increasing number of workshops were established in the city, it was in 1652 when so called potters of “white and dark” from the city of Puebla gave the power to Diego Salvador Carreto to ask the Viceroy to establish the examinations; and the ordinances were given to determine the conditions, penalties, taxes and circumstances required for the good use of the profession. The Viceroy Luis Enriquez de Guzman answered favourably to the request of producers of Talavera from Puebla.
From this demands 10 articles were applied to the production of this ware. The first one referred to the examinations that had to be approved in order to be able to produce Talavera.
The second designated the examiners.
The third determined only pure Spaniards could be examined to
become masters, and so on the rules served to maintain and preserve the quality of this ware.
The most extensive article was the eight this talked about the rules for the making of this pottery and the characteristics of its colors, clay, appearance of pieces and quality, to avoid fraud when buying this product.
This guild of potters from Puebla was established in 1653 and continued until its extinction in 1820 as disposed by Cadiz Constitution. It was a small guild conformed by 20 members in 1653, in1758 it had sixteen members, and in 1819 only 5 masters were examined.
Thanks to these rulings, quality has always been part of this traditional pottery.
Let us go through one of the most traditional techniques of this region, pride of Mexico and human inheritance.
The basis of this technique is the mixture of water with natural white and black clays. This mixture starts the transformation. Through out maturation, the clay for shaping the objects starts its way.
Once the clay is ready it is kept for a long time and stored in blocks known as “ tallas”, which have to be packed down or worked with the feet when the clay is needed to shape an object.
The pieces are manually worked, and depending on the size and form, they are either placed on a lathe or molded in a wheel by hand.
Once the pieces are finished they are stored to dry in special areas with specific characteristics of humidity and protected from air drafts.
The drying period can last 1 month to 3 months depending on the size of the piece.
Once the green period is over the pieces are totally dry, the first firing takes place at a temperature of at least 850 degrees, and for eight hours, the result is called “bisquit “ or “jaguete”.
The next step is the glazing, it is necessary to burn the led and tin in a direct fire furnace to amalgamate both elements to obtain the “alarca”.
This is grinded with gravel and water to form the smalt or glaze. Once it is ready the pieces to be glazed, they are immersed in this substance. The bottom part or reles is cleaned, and the decorative process can start.
For decoration minerals and oxides are used, they are elaborated by the antique usages in the workshops. The colors when applied are not the same after firing.
The traditional colors from Talavera are: Cobalt blue, light blue, black, yellow ,orange or Colorado, green, and rich rose.
The motives and decorations are hand made, one of the most carachteristic is the so called feathering. The “estarcido” of design gives no limit to designs.
When decoration is finished,the second firing takes place,this time going up to 1050 degrees for 10 hours, after which the colors will appear as their real color.
This beautiful industry, that flourished in Puebla , and was known in and out of our country with their products, had a sad decline during the first years of XIX century. The invasion of European products and the free importation that the government of Mexico allowed, made the European and North American ware preferred by high social classes, leaving the production of Talavera to lower ones.
It was in 1810 during the independence of Mexico when the Spanish crown is defected and rulings stop operating.
By the end of XIX century only few workshops still survived, and it was until the second half of XX century that new workshops opened and Talavera started a new flourishment.
Talavera pottery fights against extinction and survives.
Talavera pottery becomes famous and recognized, and because of this some of the producers leave aside the traditional process and start producing high volumes of ceramic pieces. Damaging the quality and menacing the workshops that carried on the traditional process with passion.
The growing demand of tourists for this product that had kept no matter what, their principal attributes, and had the hand made beauty, attracted the interest of government and producers, who started a struggle to conform the correct conditions for the obtaintion of the origin denomination, based on the XVI century rulings.
This actions leaded to the conformation of the Talavera Regulation Council.
The object of this council, is to preserve the inheritance of our ancestors and with this purpose the governor Manuel Bartlett Diaz, starts this project with the first decree in 1993 , that protects the geographical zone, that contains the primary materials characteristic of this product and can be found in the zone of the valley of Puebla in the districts of Atlixco, Cholula, Puebla and Tecalli.
Modified this 1st. decrete for the effect of changing the declaration of the zone of Talavera de Puebla, for the zone of Talavera. This was made to reinforce the authentic Talavera manufacturers and protect them from products that did not have the characteristics and materials of Talavera that were produced in other states of our country.
To consolidate this project, the governor of Puebla, demands officially to the Federation by the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Promotion; the Talavera Origin Denomination.
The declaratory of Talavera Origin Denomination was published on the official Diary of the nation of Mexico, on September 11, 1997.
Finally Manuel Bartlett presents the project for the official rule for protection of a Mexican product, made in Puebla, Talavera ; this norm is approved in November 25th. in 1998 with the name of:
NOM -132-SCF1-TALAVERA SPECIFICATIONS.
All producers of pottery that presume of doing Talavera must submit their products to various laboratory tests and inspectional visits by members of the certification committee to the workshops in order to have their product approved and certified by the “Consejo Regulador de Talavera” which is the main figure of this Origin Denomination.
This organism stands out to regulate, verify, certify and support the product Talavera as well as the producers.
The way to make this origin denomination work, has been years of very hard work, for not only we have had to work with producers, making them understand the importance of a certified product, but it has also been difficult to obtain the respect of government entities, to apply the law in the usage of Talavera as a mark, even with common citizens, for in Mexico there are only a few origin denominations of non alimentary products .
To really make them work and function for what they were created for, we have started from teaching what is the real importance of the origin denomination.
It has been hard, but not useless because after 10 years we can be proud of knowing our earthenware is known, appreciated and recognized in many countries in the world, we have clients that come to Puebla, a city with a very important artistic legacy, to admire antique Talavera in facades and cupules, but also to buy pieces of Talavera recently made, in certified workshops.
In this growing multinational market we can be certain that our product goes beyond borders without problems, because of the care and attention it is required to obtain the certificate of origin denomination. The product has more demand in and out of the country, for clients are sure of what they are buying. Having the guarantee of authenticity by means of a certificate in search of total quality.