We were looking at this piece from Puebla, Mexico and the label says it is influenced by China, which we thought was interesting because we would have thought the influences were Arab, given the similar use of colors and the fact that Spain colonized Mexico and was previously under Muslim and Arab influence. We would like to know your thoughts. Thank you!
Arab and Chinese ceramic traditions were certainly in conversation with one another. Some important things to consider with this tile is the date and the color. At this time, Chinese porcelain was a sign of wealth throughout Europe and the blue and white color was something that was interpreted as decidedly Chinese. Mexican artisans (in a city like Puebla) would have been playing directly to European tastes.
Where is that tile from? I'm curious about what kind of building it belonged to.
Based on the angel imagery we assume it comes from a church or another religiously affiliated building. Unfortunately, we don't immediately have much more information than that. It is the only one like it in our collection.
Ok cool, thank you!
Tell me more.
If you look at the corner of the tile, you will see it is chipped, revealing the red clay underneath.
This is how you know that you are not looking at real porcelain! If it were porcelain, the entire tile would be white.
Instead, this is a common earthenware clay that was glazed to resemble blue and white porcelain! Europeans (and Europeans in the Americas) did not produce porcelain until the early 1700s.
Was porcelain ever made in Mexico?
Good question. Mexico has a very long and strong tradition of producing earthenware ceramics. Puebla served as the center of ceramic production before and during the colonial period.
Pueblan potters incorporated indigenous Mexican, Chinese, and Andalusian styles. For example, the pocillo is a Pueblan version of the Chinese porcelain cup designed for the consumption of hot chocolate.