Bank depicting a Hispanic Dandy Tonalá, Jalisco, Mexico clay, natural pigment 6" high x 5" wide x 5.5" deep
The ceramic production in Tonalá, known as the authentic mestizo ceramic, is symbolic of Mexico’s identity. Made of burnished clay or scented clay, these artistic objects are created for ordinary and decorative use. The tradition comes from the Tonalteca group, which used clay to produce polished forms. The first designs of these ceramics were inspired by forms found in nature such as vegetables and roots.
The bright hues used for burnishing the objects originated from the powdered colorful and scented clay found in Mexican soil. During colonial times, the production of pottery incorporated decoration techniques brought by the Augustinian missionaries in the 17th century. The missionaries introduced lacquer that began to be used along with the original burnishing method.
Tonalá ceramics became an important part of the decoration of wealthy houses in Spain, for their fragrance, color and design. They were considered luxury objects brought from the Americas. Today, the artisans of the Valley of Tonalá still use the burnishing techniques of their pre-Hispanic ancestors, fused with colonial styles that resulted in sophisticated ceramics that became an important part of Mexico’s artistic traditions.