One of the most beautiful traditional styles of Mexican ceramics from Tonalá is petatillo, also known as barro petate, not usually seen in the public tourist markets. The time consuming technique of cross-hatched white lines that form the background design are all painstakingly painted by hand. It's named petatillo after the petate, a sleeping mat woven from palms or straw that the design resembles. Because this pottery is so labor-intensive and undertaken by so few artists, it is among the more expensive and is regarded as "luxury pottery." One of Tonalá's most renowned producers of finely painted petatillo is the workshop of the Bernabe family. This plate was made by family member Jose Trinidad Bernabe López, who signed his full name in white on the underside of the plate, along with "Tonala Jalisco Mexico."
The classic floral images are painted in shades of rust, green, black and brown, accented with black borders. In the center is a black nahual (shapeshifter) in the form of a fire-breathing deer. The scene was painted on red clay and topped with a high gloss clear glaze that has protected the paint nicely and accounts for the white spots in the photos that are light reflections. The artistry is intricate and remarkable.
The plate measures 9 inches in diameter, about 1 inch high and weighs 1 pound 2 ounces. There are two holes drilled on the top of the foot rim for hanging if you wish. The plate's in excellent condition, with no chips, cracks or crazing. There is a bit of black grit embedded in the outer rim (pictured). It's a handsome piece of petatillo pottery by a master Mexican ceramic artist.