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BARRO
BETUS

BACKGROUND

Barro Betus is one of 6 pottery techniques claimed to have their roots in Tonalá, a town on the outskirts of Guadalajara (Jalisco). The technique dates back to the colonial period. It gained international fame from the late 1960s and was championed in particular by the Acero, Candelario, Ortega, and Ramos families. 

The technique is named after the betul tree, a type of birch. More specifically, Resin from the betul tree was extracted, mixed with egg whites and applied to the painted ceramics to give them their distinctive shine. While this method is now rarely practiced due to issues related to paint fading, some artisans instead bathe their pieces in betul oil (betul tree resin diluted in thinner).

Objects created with this technique often fantastical, characterised by loud, vibrant colours, and are categorised as surrealistic. Particularly popular motifs include nahuales/naguales (fantastical creatures that represent the spiritual or physical transformation of a human being into an animal), trees of life, masks, roosters, dogs and other animals.