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Mexican Ceramics

Vase, mid–18th century, Mexican

Under Spanish colonization, Mexico became a key link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, enabling an important trade route between China, the Philippines, and Europe. Mexican ceramics from the 1600s through the 1800s reflect a corresponding blend of artistic influences. Potters combined production techniques introduced by Spanish colonizers; decorative schemes borrowed from the highly valued blue-and-white Chinese porcelain passing through Mexico en route to Europe; and imagery drawn from the surrounding landscape. These tin-glazed earthenware vessels, tiles, and other functional items (collectively known as “Talavera” pottery after Talavera de la Reina, a historic center of the Spanish ceramic industry) sometimes also depict colonizing Europeans, figures in Chinese dress, and indigenous Mexicans—underscoring the cross-cultural complexity of the colonial period.