Monday, October 10, 2011
Puebla Part 6: Rambling 'round the Centro Historico
The Talavera Tradition
potters came from Talavera de la Reina, hence the name. Thus began the Puebla's famous talavera poblana, for which the city is famous worldwide. After their arrival, the potters created a guild that set work standards. Pottery containing blue pigment was given the highest standard of Fine, because the pigment used was very expensive. Other grades were Semi-fine, and Daily Use. The guild required each piece produced to be signed by the creator, and that anyone desiring to become a master potter had to take an examination held annually.
Manila galleons into New Spain. Finally, pulling it all together, was the anciently-developed artistry of Mexico's indigenous people.
Mexican doorways are often eye-catching
museum was closed when we happened by, I could not resist a shot of its eye-catching doorway. Surrounded by deep-red walls, the doorway is framed by beautiful talavera tiles. The door itself is of richly colored wood panels. This doorway, called the Pilgrim's Portal, used to be part of the exuberantly baroque Santo Domingo church. The museum contains collections of colonial and Mexican artists of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries.
Balconies abounded in Puebla
neo-classic, seen above. It seems as if the architectural style of each era is a reaction to previous styles. Notice the false columns on either side of the door and framing the overall window segment. I couldn't tell from this distance whether the green of the balcony was paint or the patina of aged bronze.
Benemérita Universidad Autónomo de Puebla (BUAP), the large autonomous university that sprawls through Puebla. It was founded by the Jesuits in early colonial times, but is now state-owned. The word autonomous means that it controls its own curriculum. There is tremendous competition among prospective students, because graduation can be a ticket to a prosperous middle class life.
Random oddities from colonial to space age
Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron of Mexico, and particularly of its indigenous people and the poor. She has both religious and political significance, having been adopted by the insurgents of 1810 as their symbol in the War of Independence. Where she is displayed in churches, the Virgin of Guadalupe is often bracketed by Mexican flags. Above, she is made from, and framed by, the inevitable talavera.
Emiliano Zapata--more than any other figure--led the struggle for social and economic justice by the rural poor and the indigenous people . Although he was assassinated before he could complete his revolution, he is still revered, and the modern Zapatista Movement in Chiapas State is named for him. The powers-that-be made certain that his bust was placed in an obsure and non-descript spot that I only found by accident. He was never popular with the political leaders whose main aim was wealth and power for themselves.
Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, all things Egyptian became popular in many places, including Mexico.
China Poblana style became very popular in Mexico, and a symbol, like talavera, of Puebla. The term literally means Chinese Pueblan, but the woman who possessed this name in the 17th Century was actually from India. Mirra was born of a noble family but abducted by Portuguese pirates as a child. She escaped and sought refuge with Jesuit priests and converted to Catholicism, taking the name Caterina de San Juan. She was again abducted, by the same pirates, and sold into slavery in Manila. The Viceroy of Mexico had commissioned a Manila treasure galleon captain to bring him back a beautiful slave, and Caterina was chosen. However, the captain was greedy and sold her for 10 times the Viceroy's price to a wealthy family in Puebla. They raised her kindly and she was freed upon her owner's death. She ultimately came to live with the Jesuits in Puebla, finally passing away in 1688. Before she died, she became revered as a holy woman. It was her colorful Indian saris that triggered this style of dress in Mexico. The China Poblana consists of a white but colorfully sequined and embroidered blouse, and a skirt called a castor, also beaded and sequined. It was often worn with a shawl looped over the elbows. Caterina de San Juan is buried in the Sacristy of the Jesuit Temple in Puebla.
This completes Part 6 of my series on Puebla. Next, we will visit Cholula, a small city just outside Puebla that is the site of a great pre-hispanic city and the largest pyramid (by volume) in the world. I always appreciate feedback. If you would like to comment, please do so in the Comments section below or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim