Berkeley Stories and Tips

Talavera Ceramics, 1801 University Avenue

This shop is on the corner of Grant and University, has beautiful planters, suns, mirrors, tableware, and the biggest selection of Talavera tile in California. You'll see some pieces displayed outside on the sidewalk; it's impossible not to catch the splashes of color on the pots. Not all the pieces had the usual indigo and yellow that is so recognizable as Mexican ceramics. Prices are quite reasonable. You'll see some wonderful examples in the photos.

Talavera is not only the name of the shop, but is also a certain style of ceramics which is a fusion of forms from Italy, Spain, Islam, China and Mexico. The art of Talavera pottery has roots that go back at least to medieval Spain. Popular in Europe since the 13th Century, many of the designs associated today with the art originated in Talavera de la Reina, Spain. The style was later influenced by Chinese blue and white porcelain imported by maritime traders. Dominican monks introduced Talavera to Puebla, Mexico (New Spain), in the 16th Century, where it is still proudly created in family-run workshops.

In the 19th Century the father of Mexican independence Miguel de Hidalgo introduced the production of Talavera to Guanajuato, his home state, where it remains a vigorous tradition. Today the finest Mexican Talavera is lovingly handcrafted in a vibrant mix of colors and designs, reflecting sources in Spanish, Italian, North African, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and indigenous Mexican cultures. Still richly evolving, the Talavera tradition has had a profound influence on Mexican culture, from architecture to still-life painting. Prices are quite reasonable. You'll see some wonderful examples in the photos.

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