Misconceptions are often born so quietly that, like assumptions, I don't notice them around until the truth loudly clamors to prove them wrong. I'll go to the grave with an abundance of misconceptions, I'm sure, but where pottery is concerned, at least I can count one less. I held a certain misconception for a number of years, and it wasn't cleared up until this past summer. It had cuddled up in a corner of my love for Talavera, indifferent to it's existence as a mistake.
It late June, Camilla jostled it around so it kindly made a swift exit, wrapped up in its cloak of belief that Mexico's Talavera tradition was born in Guanajuato, in the town of Dolores Hidalgo. I'd visited the town once before, weaving in and back out of plaza-side shops with my eyes full of color and filigree design. Taking for granted that such visual delights were original to the country's cradle of independence, I bought up a set of bowls that are the jewel of my kitchen cabinets still today.
Learning that Northern New Mexico's ceramic traditions were influenced by Spain's majolica ware brought my misconception to a happy end. Honed to sophistication in cities like Talavera de la Reina, the tin glaze technique was then brought to New Spain, where the craft flourished in one of the oldest of colonial cities, marked by its excellent location and abundance of regional clays. Puebla was the place where the Americas first saw works fired in colorful glaze, and this past weekend, I saw for myself why that little misconception of mine was, indeed, unfounded.
The streets of the historic center are lined by eye-candy buildings, many still adorned with Talavera tiles. Our hotel, on the city maps since 1668, boasted pieces that predate the American Revolution.Workshops and storefronts throughout the city carry pieces of all shapes, sizes, functions and degrees of exquisiteness, not to mention El Parián, the small craft market where I found my new favorite bowl.
Saying goodbye to my little misconception may have opened the door for another, but it's a pleasure to have a world of new truth to enjoy. And the truth is that I adore Talavera.