Tables are the most widely used furniture item in all of Mexico. They are the heart of the home, where meals are enjoyed and holidays celebrated. They are the workspace at the artisan's shop and the center of transactions in the local marketplace. The versatility of the humble table is exceeded only by the variety in which they can be found. Though styles differ regionally and according to function, all tables serve a purpose and are appreciated in their own right.
In central and western Mexico, the tables most often seen are ranch-style tables. They're easy to identify with their long tops, box-frames and square legs, and are regularly used as dining tables or desks due to their ample leg room. Mexican hacienda or ranch-style tables are predominantly constructed from mesquite, Spanish cedar or heart pine, and are known for their durability. Although rustic and simple, it's not uncommon to see brightly painted legs in shades of blue, green or yellow.
Tables in southern Mexico, especially Michoacán, are noticeably different from their neighbors to the north. Here, colonial Spanish techniques are widely practiced and chip or gouge-carving is employed to add character to gracefully turned legs. The dining tables in this region, made almost exclusively from pine, flaunt ornate leg carvings and table-aprons and are usually accompanied by pine chairs with similar features.
Mexican tables not only differ from region to region, but from room to room within the home. The kitchen table, for example, is the center of activity and thus offers more practical features. Large stocky legs help support the table and hand-molding outlines the deep drawers where utensils are stored. Due to such features, it's not uncommon to find these tables in the workshop as well, but only after they've served their time in the kitchen.
Corner or end tables made from pine are another staple of the Mexican home, and can be found in living rooms and bedrooms alike. These pieces were extremely popular in the nineteenth century and continue to be in high demand from collectors. Perhaps the most treasured table, for obvious reasons, is the altar table. Although small in stature, these tables display religious icons and family photographs along with fresh flowers, candles and keepsakes. Altar tables found in churches are usually much longer, often with six legs to help support the multitude of patron saints.
Outside of the home, tables continue to play a major role in Mexican society. In the marketplace, tables are relied on to hold everything from fresh produce and meats to handcrafted jewelry and clothing. They feature mortise-and-tenon construction, splayed legs, cross stretchers and are painted when necessary to hide years of wear and tear. Butcher tables play a similar role but must be stout in order to absorb the constant blows from cleavers and knives. These tables rely on vertical or horizontal beams for support as well as thick, unpainted legs and hand-wrought nails. Although they're not as appealing as their domestic neighbors, utility tables such as these are built to last and are often restored by keen-eyed collectors.
Regardless of specific function or design, tables play an essential role for the people of Mexico. Their beauty and craftsmanship are comparable only to their durability and longevity. For the largest selection of handcrafted Mexican dining and occasional tables available anywhere on-line, visit our furniture collections to find the next addition to your home.