The Elegant Skulls

The “La Calavera Catrina” (the elegant skull) was originally the title of a line-engraving work of art by a Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada dated 1913. The artist created a series of calaveras, which were humorous images of contemporary figures depicted as human skeletons or skulls. These were often accompanied by humorous poems, some of which had a critical touch concerning society. The depiction of skulls and skeletons in humorous forms has since been ingrained into Mexican culture. It is especially during the Día de los Muertos that one can observe all kinds of calavera works of art, from edible sugar skulls and altar decorations to puppets wearing elegant dresses. The latter are usually called Las Catrinas (the elegants), in reference to the above mentioned line-engraving. Also originating from Posada, the short poems or verses written for The Day of the Dead are also called calavera. These contain humorous but also critical messages from the after-life to the living.

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)

The ”Día De los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead/All Souls’ Day) is one of the most important Latin-American holidays, particularly celebrated in Mexico with special customs and festivities. The celebration co-occurs with the Roman Catholic Church holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1st and 2nd). However, the Latin-American origins of this celebration reach back to ancient Indian times. In Aztec mythology, Mictecacihuatl is the keeper of the remains of the deceased (therefore, she is often referred to as the Lady of the Dead). The Indians celebrated her with an ancient festival for the dead that included festivities lasting several days. After the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, this “pagan” celebration was fused with the Christian All Souls’ Day, forming what is known today as Día de los Muertos in Mexico. Locals believe that Mictecacihuatl is still present at such events today. Their belief is expressed by the use of special symbols (mostly skeletons and skulls) and happy, humorous events of remembrance. As part of this celebration, people remember deceased family members and friends in the course of family gatherings. They usually construct small altars (which are often decorated with small, edible sugar skulls), prepare the favorite meals and drinks of the deceased, and taking these, the whole family visits the graves of the beloved in order to eat the prepared festive meals as if “together” with the deceased. The importance of the Día de los Muertos is indicated by the fact that relating to this festival, several forms of Mexican artifacts, gift objects and everyday objects were developed during the last centuries. Some of these are to be introduced later.

Latin-America going strong at World Cup 2014 in Brazil

In our last blog, we gave you an insight on the roots of modern football (soccer) in Mesoamerica. Now that the Football World Cup 2014 in Brazil takes a short break after the group stage, we would like to draw a short conclusion regarding the performance of the Latin-American teams, since there is something to talk about, indeed!

For the first time in World Cup history, out of the 9 nations participating from Central- and South-America, 7 have made it to the best 16. The fact that Brazil as the host nation and record World Cup winner won their group, is not a surprise, of course. Mexico finishing second behind them, eliminating Croatia in a wonderful manner, is something to raise your sombrero to. Chile are also going strong, having defeated defending champions Spain clearly.

Argentina have one of the world’s strongest selection and probably the best player in the world (Messi), so they were expected to finish first in their group. The case of Colombia who did the same was by far not so clear, especially considering the fact that they miss their top striker Falcao due to injury. The supporters of probably the third strongest Latin-American team, Uruguay, had high hopes to survive their ‘Death Group’ with England and Italy, and so far, they cannot complain, since ‘La Celeste’ have made it to the eliminary round. They will definitely have a hard task ahead though, facing Colombia without their brilliant but undisciplined striker Luis Suarez, who has been banned from the games by the FIFA.

The biggest surprise so far has been delivered certainly by the small but enthusiastic football nation of Costa Rica. The Central-Americans managed to win the ‘Death Group’ beating Uruguay and Italy and drawing England. What is more: they have a real chance to continue their success story, since they will meet Greece in the best 16.

The program of the tournament continues with the following games:world-cup-2014-round-of-16v1

  • Brazil-Chile
  • Holland-Mexico
  • Colombia-Uruguay
  • Costa Rica-Greece
  • Argentina-Switzerland
  • France-Nigeria
  • Belgium-USA
  • Germany-Algeria

May the best (Latin-American :)) team be the winner!

Mesoamerica, the home of football

The greatest sport event with strong Latin connections has finally begun this week! Naturally, we are talking about the Football World Cup in Brazil, where the best 32 national teams of the world meet, among them nine countries representing the South- and Central-American region. If we also take into consideration reigning champions Spain and the strong team of Portugal lead by Cristiano Ronaldo, we can see that the Latin influence is very significant in modern football. We take this good opportunity to give you a brief insight on the strong Mesoamerican roots of the most popular sport of the world.

The ancestors of modern soccer or football have been played as early as in ancient Greece and in China. First evidence of a ballgame played by the warrior peoples of Central-America dates back to around 2500 B.C. The rules and the appearance didn’t have much in common with the ones you can observe in the course of the next weeks in the arenas of Brazil, of course. The ballgames of the Olmec and Aztec have been played for example in heavy protection gear, using belts and padded helmets to protect the players’ knees, hips, elbows and heads. The two rival teams had to get a leather or solid rubber ball through a ‘goal’ – a vertical stone ring set high into one of the walls of the ballcourt.

The ballgame is also integrated in Mesoamerican mythology: according to the legend, the Lord of the Underworld challenged two Maya god-brothers who have annoyed him with their ballplaying. Luring them into the Underworld, he beats one of the brothers in a ballgame, and decapitulates him. This myth is reflected in the real ballgames often resulting in sacrifying the losing team’s players.

An interesting aspect of the ancient ballgames of the indigenous people of Mesoamerica is the assumption, that the games might have sometimes served as a proxy for warfare. There is evidence that in the densely populated regions, where conflicts between neighbours occured very frequently, the hostile parties often held ballgames instead of fighting battles, thus deciding their disputes in the ballcourt.

Let’s hope today’s football gladiators also stick to the spirit of Fair Play, and won’t turn the football stadions into battle grounds. We wish everybody to have fun watching the World Cup and supporting their favourites! May the best (LATIN :)) team be the winner!

Home Accessories of La Tienda: the wonderful world of Mexican ceramics

Home Accessories of La Tienda: tradition and colours

Although our range on home accessories is very wide and diverse, there is a lot our beauties have in common. First of all, they all come from Mexico and are made of high quality Talavera ceramics. They are made completely by hand, beginning with the shaping of the clay, to the drawing of the patterns and the colouring, ending with the burning procedure. The Mexican artisans has been passing on the art of Talavera making from one generation to the other for 500 years now. Take a look at our home decor treasures, and you will discover, that they are all exotic and vibrant, and the sunny colours and funny patterns of Latin-America literally make them come alive.

Home accessories of La Tienda: the ultimate gift idea

If you were looking for something really special to decorate your home with, or a unique and unforgettable gift to surprise your friends, we can assure you: our Mexican home accessories are the perfect solution!

Happy shopping!

Flower pots from Mexico: the ultimate colour spots for your plants

Flower pots of Talavera: your private, multifunctional Mexican gardener

So, are you interested in our amazing Talavera ceramic flower pots? Well, here we go! If you check out our website, you might learn about the making of Talavera ceramics and the 500-years old tradition of colourful, hand-made tiles in Mexico. Using the same technique, the talented potters create flower pots, planters and vases of all sizes and shapes, decorating them with typical Mexican patterns and colours. Is it a small vase for your daffodil atop of the dining table that you are looking for? Or huge planters to house your bouganvillea bushes along the poolside? Perhaps some really impressive flower pots to decorate the arched terrace of your hacienda and to let your guests go pale with envy? You can find it all among our unique ceramic beauties! Let’s go pick the flowers!

 

Flower pots for presents: the unique gift ideas from La Tienda

After you have found and acquired your first, very own and special Talavera ceramic flower pot, you will notice that it will attract the eyes of your visitors immediately. You will get excited questions, jealous looks and offers to trade it in for something else. Don’t worry about that, just make sure to remember to give that person a Talavera vase for the next best occassion as a gift. A colourful planter with an evergreen inside for Mothers’ Day? The perfect present! A huge fish-shaped pot to a young couple for moving in a new home? They will be enchanted! A funny little vase in your kid’s room for the birthday flowers? A guaranteed success! Check out our selection for new ideas!

Cinco de Mayo, a famous Mexican National Holiday

One of the most important national holidays of Mexico is the Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May. With the country’s history rich in wars and armed conflicts, this time Mexicans commemorate the 1862 Battle of Puebla, which has caused a significant impact ont he future of not only Mexico, but the whole North-American continent.

The nowadays worn-out term „state-dept” was also well-known already in the 19th century, and it once even became „casus belli” between France and Mexico. It happened, after Mexican president Benito Juarez officially declared to suspend the repayment of state debts the country collected by using foreign loans to finance the last 20 years of civil war and turmoil. The European superpowers of that era, who happened to be the main creditors, expressed clear dissatisfaction over this decision. France’s Emperor Napoleon III. went even as far as sending a strong fleet and army to attack Mexico. Since they have significantly outnumbered Mexican troops both in numbers and in techniqual equipment, the French army – considered among the strongest int he world of the time –  quickly captured the port town of Veracruz, and then pushed forth towards Mexico City. On May 5th 1862, they engaged in a battle with the Mexican forces nearly half of their numbers by the town of Puebla. The Mexican army fought enthusiastically and heroically, and finally managed to heavily defeat the overweening French.

The battle of Puebla proved to be only a minor defeat for the French army in the end, considering the fact, that within a year’s time they have captured Mexico City and took hold of the whole country, ruling it for over 3 years. However, the significance of this victory for the Mexican people lies in showing them that they were very much capable to fight and win together as one, and laying the fundaments of their national self esteem. The proud Mexicans even do not forget to mention, that the guerilla-movement that they organized under the French rule not only led to final victory and the chasing off of the French from the country, but also contributed to the final victory of the Northern powers in the American Civil War, distracting French capacities from supporting the Southern States.

As a last word, let us remark humbly, that the cradle of La Tienda’s ceramics is also the state of Puebla, so, on the 5th of May, beyond Mexico’s national holiday we also celebrate the crafted Talavera artisans of that time, who were cautious enough to survive the turmoils of the war

Happy May 5th! ¡Feliz 5 de Mayo!

Decorative mirrors

Decorative mirrors by La Tienda: the ultimate beauties

For five centuries, the talented potters of Mexico have created Talavera tiles, shaping, painting and burning them all by hand. Suddenly they discovered, that there is even a further stage to beauty, so they arranged a ‘wedding’ for the colorful groom of tiles and the shining bride of mirrors. Out of this love affair emerged the Queen of all mirrors: our Mexican decorative mirror! She is the perfect creation of able craftsmen who use their skill and tradition to color the gemstones of Talavera which are ment for her to wear as a priceless necklace. The artists of metal decorate her tin clothes, which equal her shining jewel of tiles, yet allow it to dominate the scene. The Queen’s eyes reflect the speachless admiration and enchantment of the beholder…

Decorative mirrors of Talavera: add a new focus to your home!

Installing a Talavera decorative mirror adds not only a unique touch of exotic style to your home, but changes perspectives, opens up spaces and generates a focus point, drawing the eye upon as if by a magical spell. Regardless of the shape or the size of the mirror you chose, prepare yourself for the queues of visitors, who will admire your decorative mirror without an end, as if standing in the Louvre in front of Mona Lisa. Well, they have the unique charm and beauty in common, haven’t they?

Create your own pattern of Talavera decorative tiles

Decorative tiles of Mexico – Welcome to the colorful world of La Tienda!

 You might agree if we said that our hand-made little gemstones are beautiful in themselves, but their magic unfolds just right when we combine them to form endless varieties of patterns. After all, they are supposed to decorate large surfaces in your home, so you have to be aware of how they look together, right? For this purpose, before you decide to order from our decorative tiles, we try to show you how the spell really works, by presenting you some of our most attractive sample patterns above.

We have already started working on our on-line, interactive decorative tiles configurator, which will enable you to create your own patterns. Until that, you can send us your favourite Talavera decorative tiles (refer to their name, for example: ‘Dragons’), and we post some patterns featuring them, on our Facebook page. Step into the world of La Tienda!

Unique Christmas Gifts from La Tienda

”If only I had a truly genuine Christmas gift idea this year!”

Does this thought ring a bell for you as the holidays are approaching? Well, you have just found what you are looking for! Take a look at our chest of treasures, full with tips for unique Christmas gifts!

Unique Christmas gifts, No.1: Mexican Vases

Every Talavera vase, flower pot and planter is hand-painted and a piece of art, vibrating in the colors of Mexico. Fall in love with the huge pots for terraces or gardens, or be amazed with their smaller sisters for balconies or windowsills! A truly unforgettable present, do not hesitate to pick yours, here!

Unique Christmas gifts, No.2: Exotic animal sculptures

Want to combine colours and fun within a high quality hand-made wall décor piece of art?  Want to give an exotic pet as present without the receiver throwing you out the door? Go ahead and find yourself your best personal Christmas gift ideas ever – amongst the geckos, frogs, birds and turtles of La Tienda.

Unique Christmas gifts, No.3: A cross on the wall

Our Talavera ceramic wall crosses represent a truly original – but very Mexican – approach of this religious holiday. They are available in all sizes, shapes and designs. Scan our small stock here, and let our genuine Christmas gift ideas colour your fiesta!

 

Unique Christmas gifts, No.4: Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Talavera, the beauty queen of Latin interiors, a Mexican tin mirror, wonderfully carved and decorated with original, hand-painted Talavera small tiles. With an irresistible Christmas present like this, you simply can’t go wrong! Grab yours here!

 

By now, you really must be curious to see our range of unique Christmas gifts face to face. Please click on the gift boxes to unwrap the presents!

chrismas gift