This two-handled dish is from the Balsas River basin in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The decorations on this barro pintado (painted clay) piece are called Nahuatl painting, named after the people living in the 23 villages there. The brightly colored, intricately detailed painted scenes document the celebrations and traditions of the communities. Depicted on this story dish is a "Fiesta de Quinceañera," the 15th birthday celebration of a Mexican girl's coming of age.
In the center of the dish we find the birthday girl, the quinceañera, dancing in her red full-length ball gown, surrounded by a circle of dancers holding hands. At the center bottom of the scene are her eight attendants, wearing matching white headdresses. There is very little negative space on this artwork; everywhere we look, there is a figure, a decorative design, a bit of foliage and flowers, even on the underside of the wide rim. The handles and the upper edge of the rim were painted in Mexican-flag green. It is hand signed on the reverse by the artist Francisco Concepción Rios.
The dish itself measures 9 1/2 inches wide; including the handles it's 11 1/4 inches across. It's about 2 inches high at the handles and weighs 1 1/2 pounds. It's in very good condition, with only a few tiny chips around the rim (which always gets the brunt of the knocking around) and a few more to the undecorated bottom. The overall finish is semi-gloss, which marks it as vintage, probably from the 1970's/1980's, since the newer Nahuatl pottery is high-fired and glossy.
Balsas folk pottery like this dish has become internationally known and this is an especially fine, signed example.