Art & Design Magazine

The Aztec Contribution to Pottery

By Mushir @Nethaat


Central and southern Mexico was once ruled by a powerful tribe of hunters and gatherers from northern Mexico called the Aztecs in the 15th and early 16th centuries.

Apart from being famous for giving the world the exceptionally accurate Aztec calendar, their contribution to pottery is significant and their craftsmanship much admired world over today.


Pottery, besides being useful to the Aztecs, was considered a religious craft form. The shapes, sizes and designs were all symbolic of the Aztec culture and religion.

In the time of the Aztecs, pottery was owned by every Aztec or Mexica household no matter how poor they were. They used pots for storing water, soaking beans overnight and other household items. The wealthier families also owned several pieces of handmade plates and goblets – all made from the finely-textured clay found in abundance in Mexico.

The reason we have extensive knowledge about Aztec pottery today and the changes it underwent, is due to a peculiar tradition the Aztecs followed of destroying all their household goods every 52 years.

One of the most famous styles of Aztec pottery is what is now known as ‘black – on – orange’. Though many designs were used over the course of their history, most designs used black and white as well as red and orange colours. A white background with black, red and orange painted designs was at one point, the most popular style. Depending on the geographical area the pots were being made in and the materials found in that area, the pottery varied in style.

A transition in the designs of Aztec pottery was noted as they changed from traditional geometric patterns and abstract motifs to nature inspired ones depicting fish, birds, insects and other plants and animals with more ornate borders. This change without a doubt boasts an ‘international’ influence of sorts on the style. The Aztecs made pots using plain strips of clay which they moulded into many shapes with deft, nimble fingers and a keen eye due to the absence of a potter’s wheel. The end of the 15th century saw more refined and delicate objects with sophisticated designs being made as compared to the coarse, basic shapes and rigid designs of the mid 14th century.

Mexican pottery to date reflects strongly the influence of the Aztecs by making use of earthy tones and colours such as deep red, burnt orange and terracotta. Mexican pottery pieces are used by scores of interior designers all over the world to give rooms focal points and the ‘Indian’ vibe. The use of pyramid themes and designs in Mexican décor even today serves as a constant reminder of the powerful Aztec tribes’ contribution to the land’s arts and crafts.

The Aztec Contribution to Pottery

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Gene Speicher Pottery in Francesville, Indiana: Where Creativity Lives

    Gene Speicher Pottery Francesville, Indiana: Where Creativity Lives

    New to little Indiana? Subscribe for free to my RSS feed. Thanks for stopping by!Gene Speicher Pottery in Francesville, IndianaIndiana towns hold so many fun an... Read more

    By  Jessicanunemaker
  • Outfit: Aztec Glam

    Outfit: Aztec Glam

    Tunic / H MAztec print leggings / River IslandBoots / VintageBag / River IslandRings, Cuff and Snake print bracelet / H MWatch / ... Read more

    By  Lovelybylucy
  • Recall Alert: Pottery Barn Dolls

    Pottery Barn is recalling its popular Chloe, Sophie and Audrey soft dolls (part of its Kids’ Girl Doll Collection) because kids can possibly get strangled by th... Read more

    By  Bgme
  • Article Contribution to the Proud Japan Network

    One of my friends on Facebook introduced me a conservative civic media, called the Proud Japan Network. This group was found quite recently to advocate a... Read more

    By  Shahalexander
  • Outfit | Aztec Print Jeans

    Outfit Aztec Print Jeans

    Aztec print jeans / River IslandBlack jumper / H MBoots / River IslandBeanie / UnknownBracelets / H MNecklace / Gift from... Read more

    By  Lovelybylucy
  • Wednesday Wishlist : Aztec Prints

    Wednesday Wishlist Aztec Prints

    In the winter months a lot of the time I dress in quite dark colours, plain fabrics…nothing too interesting. I think it’s the weather – it has an effect on my... Read more

    By  Magsrepublic
  • Crackpot Pottery and Ceramic Painting

    Crackpot Pottery Ceramic Painting

    I went to Crackpot Studio to meet up with another homeschooler who I hadn't met before. The art teacher I had at the Oakville Art Society thought I would like t... Read more

    By  Paige