Collection of Plates from Michoacan in the Tzintzuntzan Style c. 1930-50 SOLD M599

A treasure trove of folk art pottery. From Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico.

The images on each piece display a verve and individuality rare even in the much admired Tzintzuntzan crafts tradition. There is a touch of genius in every one.  We feel their free-hand expressiveness and restrained palette would play as well in a modernist setting as in a traditional one.

Prices on request

Tzintzuntzan is a Spanish-speaking peasant community of 2500 people, on the east shore of Lake Pátzcuaro, 230 miles west of Mexico City on a good paved highway. The lake, perhaps the most beautiful in Mexico, lies at an elevation of 7000 feet, surrounded by extinct volcanic peaks rising to 12,000 feet. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, beginning in 1519, Tzintzuntzan was the capital of the Tarascan Empire, the most powerful cultural and political group in west central Mexico. Its importance is still attested to by five circular pyramids rising above the village. Briefly during the early colonial period, Tzintzuntzan was slated to be the seat of the bishopric for west central Mexico, but the church fathers soon thought better of such ambitious plans. Still, a major Franciscan monastery functioned there for well over 2 centuries, and colonial church buildings cast their distinctive stamp on the village. Spaniards and their Mexican-born descendants—increasingly mixed with the indigenous peoples of the areas—have lived in the village since the 1530s; church registers, well into the nineteenth century, distinguish entries as Ciudadano (of Spanish descent) or Yndio (Indian, Tarascan speaking). Although Tarascan appears to have been the dominant language until after 1850, for the past century Spanish has been the principal language. Today the 10% of the population that can speak Tarascan represents recent migrants from adjacent Indian villages. Tzintzuntzan is a pottery-making and trading village, in which farming is of secondary importance, best characterized as mestizo by race and peasant by cultural typology.