Mexican Black Pottery

Are you looking for a unique and distinctive way to decorate your home? Mexican black pottery features a beautiful black sheen that will instantly add a touch of rustic sophistication to any household. Read our guide for more facts & information…

Mexican black pottery, also known as barro negro pottery, comes from Oaxaca in Mexico, and is very specific to this region. The clay that is found in this area is of a rare black color, at a density that is perfect for pottery. Traditionally, barro negro is a sooty gray color with a slightly chalky residue, but was revamped in the 1950’s with a beautiful polished finish. Since the inception of this polished look by a potter named Doña Rosa, whose family shop is still going strong in Oaxaca, the gleaming finish of barro negro has ramped up in popularity once more.


The black sheen of the Mexican black pottery finish is one of the most distinctive features of this type of pottery, however, there are several other features that also make Mexican black pottery extremely beautiful. The polished surfaces are often carved out or etched with very detailed and intricate patterns and shapes that contrast perfectly with the often-bulbous shape of the pieces themselves. The etchings and carvings have a distinctive Mexican flare about them, and are always carefully crafted by hand.

The Mescal Monkey

One of the most collectible feature items made with Mexican black pottery is the Chango Mezcalero, or Mescal Monkey. The origins of the monkey are hazy at best, with several families claiming that they were the first to produce the ornamental receptacle. Regardless of its unclear origins, the mescal monkey is certainly striking. The container usually holds roughly 1 ½ pints of mescal, a liquor made from the agave plant, and is shaped like a monkey that is customarily covering its eyes or ears. It is highly collectible, and one of the rare pieces of Mexican pottery that is used to contain a fluid. It is also customarily given as a gift.

What to Look For

Original and genuine barro negro pottery only comes from the region of Oaxaca, and is protected by law in Mexico for its authenticity. The pottery is often marked with the potter’s name or initials, and may also include the origins of the pottery itself.


With the exception of the Mescal Monkey, black Mexican pottery is by and large unsuitable for holding liquids, as it is unglazed and quite porous. It is more often made as pots, ornamental jugs and musical instruments, rather than tableware for this reason. Mexican black pottery pieces should be hand washed with care, and are not suitable for use in dishwashers, ovens or microwaves, as this will damage the clay.

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