Barro Brunido, or "Burnished Clay" is one of the oldest known pre-Hispanic pottery techniques and the foundation from which numerous other clay techniques have been derived. Originally used as vessels to carry water, the most notable feature of barro brunido is a non-glazed but strikingly painted and polished surface.
Creating barro brunido is a laborious, multi-step process punctuated by long periods of burnishing the pottery with specific stones and minerals. The excessive polishing creates a silky smooth, watertight and luminous surface. Typically the pieces are decorated in flora and fauna motifs paired with complex geometric shapes and pre-Hispanic borders. Abstract themes like the mythical Nagual are also depicted, as are farmers harvesting corn or tending animals, seasonal fiestas, and observances of life and death.
Today, a small group of artisans in Jalisco, Mexico still hand-craft authentic barro brunido using only traditional processes. Even the colorful paints and slips are derived from local clays and oxides. For them, creating the pottery is not just a livelihood, it is their heritage. They are dedicated not only to their own work, but to the preservation and continuance of traditional Mexican folk art.