Clay pans, pots and jugs are still widely used throughout Mexico to contain, transport, cook, eat and store food. There are numerous processing, finishing and decoration techniques that distinguish each of them, according their region of origin. Archaeological references attest to their antiquity, but it was not until the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, that they began to be glazed—inside or out—for the preparation of new dishes and other new uses. Starting some 20 years ago, lead-free glaze was incorporated in pieces forged at low temperatures.
Large pots such as those from Puebla and Michoacán are put to everyday, festive or ritual use at community meals; clay ritual tamaleras are produced in Morelos; there are enormous jars for storing seeds in Oaxaca and Chiapas; clay tableware from Jalisco; Sinaloa's clay molcajetes; jugs for atole and pozole and pots for rice used in Mexico State.
In many cases, use dictates a specific piece and form: arrocera rice dishes are wide glazed pots; vessels for preparing moles and other sauces are deeper; burnished jars keep water fresh; cocuchas hold grains; clay molcajetes, carved at bottom, con contain sauces; there are lidded pots for beans; individual jars for chocolate, coffee and morning tea, as well as larger pots for stirring chocolate; and pozolero plates or pots for making tesgüino in Mexico’s northern highlands, all a mere sampling of the variety found throughout Mexico.