Are you looking for souvenirs from your trip to Mexico? Are you tired of returning from your travels with little knick-knacks, shot glasses, and miniature license plates? Luckily, the souvenirs you can pick up in Mexico are far from kitschy bobbles. Instead, you have a wide variety of Mexican art to choose from.
Anything from jewelry, boxes, baskets, cups, and more can be found at reasonable prices with one of a kind designs; you just have to know where to look. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best locations to purchase Mexican art in Mexico. Keep reading below to learn more!
What Types of Art Is Mexico Famous For?
Mexican art comes in many forms. Everything from paper making, basket weaving, pottery making, and more are true art forms that have been passed down for generations and perfected throughout the years. You will find many locals who are selling in the market were taught their craft from the generation before them, and the cycle continues.
Mexico is famous primarily for their art in the forms of silver, looming, basketry, stonework, copper, and ornaments. Each region of Mexico has a niche product that they are known for, and you can often tell by their translated namesake. Luckily, Mexico is littered with museums so you’ll never have a hard time learning about the history of each location and what each area is famous for!
Do These Arts Have a Particular Cultural or Historical Significance?
Mexico is rich with history, all you need to do is take a look at the street names, marketplaces, and towns around you to get a sense of the cultural or historical significance. Many places have traditional Nahuatl names that will give you a glimpse into the history of the location or what art forms or products they specialize in. Additionally, when it comes to ancient art and art forms, everything is historically significant.
As we learned above, all you need to do is take a step inside one of the numerous museums within Mexico to learn more. Some of the locations, like Santa Clara Del Cobre, still benefit from the proceeds of their specialty craft or art form.
What Are the 10 Best Locations to Purchase Mexican Art?
Are you looking for that classic Mexican silver? If so, you will want to head to Taxco. Taxco is the silver capital of Mexico as it is one of the oldest mining towns to date.
Although the silver mines are not producing nearly the same amount of silver as they did in the 1500s, they are still historical relics that bring many tourists to Taxco. If you’re looking for jewelry or other silver goods, this is going to be the best location to do so. We recommend visiting the following souvenir shops: Nuestro Mexico Artesanias, Mercado de Artesanias Plata, and Patio de las Artesanias.
2. Santa Clara Del Cobre
If silver is not your thing, Santa Clara Del Cobre is considered the copper capital of Mexico. Dating back to the pre-Columbian era, this town's economy was, and believe it or not still is, dependant upon the manufacturing of copper. This town proudly boasts that almost 500 tons of copper are moved through the town annually to create a wide variety of household goods and objects.
Santa Clara Del Cobre is a great location for Mexican art due to the variety of items you can purchase. Here, you can buy anything from bathtubs, cookware, furniture, mirrors, and more all made of copper or featuring copper accents. Almost every single stall and shop in Santa Clara Del Cobre sells some form of copper good. You won’t want to miss this niche market!
Are you looking for souvenirs to pick up for your friends and family? If so, Tlalpujahua is a great place to look for Mexican art. Tlalpujahua is known for their Christmas ornaments and is even touted as the Christmas capital of the world! They produce over 100 million ornaments a year of all shapes, sizes, and designs.
There are over 200 shops around Tlalpujahua that feature Christmas-related souvenirs. That makes Tlalpujahua one of the most affordable places to shop. Don’t worry; if you don’t solely want to shop for Christmas ornaments, there are other crafts you can browse here as well.
Xochistlahuaca is the Mexican art shopping destination if you’re looking for some authentic textiles. Named after the word that translates to “people of the loom,” Xochistlahuaca is famous for their gorgeous and intricate fabric weaving. There are a ton of shops, boutiques, and markets around the area to guarantee you a full day of shopping.
Looking for more fabric, looming, and textiles? We recommend heading to the La Casa de Las Artesania, the gift shop at La Flor, and the Xochistlahuaca Community Museum. You can also explore the Xochistlahuaca museum to learn more about the history of looming in Xochistlahuaca.
5. Tecali De Herrera
Tecali de Herrera is the place for Mexican art made of stone. In fact, Tecali de Herrera translates to “stone house” or more traditionally “where the houses of stone are” in the Nahuatl tongue. Tecali de Herrera has a long history of quarrying and carving stones; in fact, it dates all the way back to pre-contact times. Pre-contact times refers to the time before indigenous people had contact with any other culture or group of people.
If you’re looking for marble, onyx, or travertine Tecali de Herrera is the place to go. You can purchase everything here from fireplaces to countertops and even beautiful dice. We always recommend that you swing by the Convent in the area to observe the 16th-century, Renaissance-style, stone skeleton.
Tlaquepaque is one of Mexico’s top places to look for pottery. Tlaquepaque, like many of the other town names, has a specific meaning. In Nahuatl, Tlaquepaque translates to “place above clay land.”
If you are interested in doing more than just shopping, you will find countless museums sprinkled throughout the town. Stop in to learn more about the history of stone carving in the region. We recommend the Museo Regional de la Ceramica, Museo Pantaleon Panduro, and the Museo Nacional de la Ceramica.
If you’re looking for pottery with a smoother surface, you may want to head to Tonala. Tonala is another pottery capital of Mexico that features a wide variety of Mexican art. This pottery, unlike some of the pottery at Tlaquepaque, is known for the high-fire kilning process that gives it a sleek finish.
We recommend stopping by the bi-weekly market and perusing the local specialties. Many local villagers set up shop and are known for their animal-shaped whistles, carafes, miniature cookware, and drainpipes. Don’t be afraid of bargaining here either!
8. Mexico City
In the United States, a handmade basket at your local market can cost you a pretty penny. In Mexico City, Mexico’s basket capital, you have a wide variety to choose from at much more affordable price points. That does not mean there are only baskets to shop for, though. The basketry style can also be applied to other specialty forms of Mexican art.
Everything from sleeping mats, miniature baskets, tortilla warmers, and more are some of the things you can expect to find at Mexico City’s markets. We recommend trying La Merced Market that has over 30 stalls dedicated to basketry goods. Believe it or not, most of their sales come from other vendors and local restaurant owners!
9. San Pablito
Are you looking for a one of a kind piece of Mexican art that you can frame and appreciate for its historical context for years to come? If so, you absolutely have to check out San Pablito for their traditional paper making. San Pablito is one of the few places in the world where the traditional form of using fibrous bark and volcanic stone to make paper is still being used today.
We’ve seen a few selections for pottery so far but we haven’t touched on the renowned Puebla. Puebla is one of the few places where you can purchase genuine Talavera pottery. Talavera pottery is so special because it is painted by hand.
Be careful when purchasing genuine Talavera pottery, you always want to ensure you are able to get it back home with you safely. Mexican customs require Talavera pottery to have only a small amount of mineral pigments. Shipping may be an option but be mindful that they still have to go through customs.
The amount of handmade Mexican artwork is astounding when you start to do your research. If you are heading to Mexico anytime soon, take a look at these tips above. It is a good idea to plan out your shopping trips based around your desired souvenirs.
Using the list above, you will be able to streamline your shopping process to ensure you have enough time on vacation to relax, explore, and shop to your heart's desire. Don’t be afraid to haggle with vendors either. Best of luck and happy travels!