At El Cielo’s eatery – El Sabor – we often have people commenting on just how pretty our plates and dishes are. “Gracias,” we reply, “we know they are!”. But did you know that our Mexican’s love of ceramics and pottery is very deeply rooted in Mexican tradition? My friends, let me explain with a little Mexican history lesson for you all…
The history of Mexican pottery goes back to the period of the Olmecs (1500 BC – 800 AD), and were the first major civilisation in Mexico, who are said to be many of the founding fathers of the Mesoamerican culture – which until Spanish colonisation centuries later was a mosaic of cultural traits stretching from Mexico to Costa Rica. The Olmecs handed down their knowledge of pottery and artistic flair to many of the cultures that followed.
However it was during the times of the Aztec Empire (1325 AD – 1521 AD) where pottery truly flourished in Mexico. Ceramics was considered one of the highest forms of artistic talent during the Aztec Empire, and the knowledge of pottery making was said to be a direct lesson from the God Quetzalcoatl himself. The cultural trait of using an abundance of bold colours and patterns truly flourished during this time, as the works made were decorated in a way which would please the gods above. Whilst particular regions of Mexico had their own major design and artistic influences, the prevalence of temples, murals, pyramids and textiles painted in vibrant yellows, reds, bright greens and turquoise defined much of the pre-Hispanic Mexican culture. As one passage from the Aztec period reads:
“A good potter:
he puts great care into his work,
he teaches the clay to lie,
he speaks with his own heart,
he brings life to things,
he creates them,
he knows everything as if he were a Toltec
he makes his hands skillful.”
Therefore, we see today many Mexican eateries still using the vibrant pottery, plates and dishes as a way to pay homage to the traditional cultures and crafts of our people. And just a friendly tip, the quicker you eat our delicious food the sooner you can admire the artwork on the plate.. Trust me Amigo!