Glass and Stonework
Glass manufacture, unknown in pre-Columbian times, was introduced by the Spanish. Today, the tradition continues in factories throughout Mexico that turn out mountains of burbuja (boor-BOO-hah)—bubbled glass tumblers, goblets, plates, and pitchers, usually in blue or green. Finer glass is manufactured, notably in Guadalajara (in suburban Tlaquepaque and Tonalá villages), where you can watch artisans blow glass into a number of shapes—often paper-thin balls—in red, green, and blue.
Mexican artisans work stone, usually near sources of supply. Puebla, Mexico’s major onyx (ónix, OH-neeks) source, is the manufacturing center for the galaxy of mostly rough-hewn, cream-colored items, from animal charms and chess pieces to beads and desk sets, which crowd curio-shop shelves all over the country. Cantera, a pinkish stone, quarried near Pátzcuaro and Oaxaca, is used similarly.
For a keepsake from a truly ancient Mexican tradition, don’t forget the hollowed-out stone metate (may-TAH-tay), a corn-grinding basin, or the three-legged molcajete (mohl-kah-HAY-tay), a mortar for grinding chiles.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition