From Baghdad to the Potters of Puebla: How an Islamic Art Form Became a Mexican Icon

When and Where

Friday, February 12, 2021 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Online via Zoom


Dr. Farzaneh Pirouz-Moussavi


From Baghdad to the Potters of Puebla: How an Islamic Art Form Became a Mexican Icon

This presentation takes a historical look at how the tin glaze industry came to exist in Mexico - thousands of miles away from its roots. The question of why the industry survived and then thrived is intriguing. Because in the countries where it first developed – Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria and even Spain - the industry has almost completely disappeared and has been superseded by cheaper machine-made products.

Mexico’s unique history established the core tensions in perceptions giving rise to both survival and destruction of certain art forms – tin glaze, known in Mexico as talavera, reflects the history in full. To look closely at one piece of talavera – its design, shape and production – is to peer into a history that has crossed cultural divides.

The Presenter:
Farzaneh Pirouz-Moussavi (PhD, Oxford) is an art historian, independent curator and Islamic art consultant. She has a special interest in cross-cultural influences, such as the impact of Islamic art and artifacts on other cultures, and contrariwise. Her work has taken her from the Middle East, and China to Europe and Mexico, where she has spent many years researching the potters’ workshops.

Her published works include subjects ranging from Royal (Qajar) paintings and 19th century representation of women in Iran, to the state of contemporary Middle Eastern art. In December 1991, she curated an exhibition and organised a conference on the ‘The Private lives of the Qajars’ at the Ashmolean Museum Oxford. This was the first exhibition and conference on the arts of the Qajar period.

Her book, Clay between Two Seas: From Baghdad to the Potters of Puebla, was published by Grupo Planeta in December 2017. She curated three major exhibitions under the same title at Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City in May 2016, in Dallas in September 2016 at the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum, and at the Museo Barroco, Puebla in April 2017.

These exhibitions, together with her research and book, collaboration with the government, museums and galleries in Mexico and Spain, and the workshops in Puebla ensured UNESCO declared Talavera, the tin glaze ceramics in Mexico and Spain, an intangible cultural heritage in December 2019.

To register, visit the online registration page (

This event is co-organized by the Latin American Studies program in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and the Institute for Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto.