Tonala means “place where the sun goes down”.  It was founded by the Zapotecas, who mixed with other tribes including the Tonaltecas.  An ancient centre of native government, Tonala experienced the first Spanish expedition to the area led by Francisco Cortes in August of 1523.  Nuno de Guzman came to Tonala in March, 1530 and subjugated Queen Cihualpilli and her people.

Tonala is a major center of various crafts and traditional artesanal processes.

Cerro de la Reina

The types of crafts you can find in Tonala include:

Blown Glass – this craft was first documented in Mexico in the 16th century, and somehow made its way to Tonala where it is a staple of the artistic tradition.

High Temperature Ceramics – this craft received its name for the temperatures which vary from 1100 to 1300 degrees Celsius using colors and paints which can survive these temperatures.

Betus Pottery – this pottery is also called Fantastic Ceramics for its color.  “Betus” refers  to a resin extracted from pine trees that is used in the paint.

Betus Pottery 
Brunido Pottery

Brunido Pottery – the name of the technique to produce a brilliant finish using river stones and then a metal called “pirita”, and baking the piece in a wood-fired oven.

Canelo or Loza de Olor Pottery – named for the colors that are similar to cinnamon and an odor that comes from the local water.

Canelo Pottery
Engretado Pottery

Engretado Pottery – this is named for the exterior finish which resembles glass in its shine.  The pieces are dipped in a chemical bath which includes copper and lead.

Natural Pottery – this pottery is made with no chemicals or other external additives.  It is usually the natural color of the clay.

Opaque Pottery – named for its color and for its natural non-brilliant finish.

Oxidized Pottery – this pottery gets its name from the finish which appears to be very old.

Petatillo Pottery – this is a more ecologically correct ceramic.  It has a special finish which includes a bath in unleaded paint.

Black Pottery
Petatillo Pottery

Forged Iron – a craft which originated in the village of Tonalteca, and which represents a classic style of iron work.

Papier Mache – a fairly recent craft in Tonala, only about 60 years old, it has become very popular.  Use of vinyl paint and lacquer leave the pieces looking very clear and bright.

Repujado – a craft in which a metal is applied over a glass figure.  The laminate might be aluminum, bronze or brass.