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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Looking to buy ceramics? Look no further than Ticul

It's a good time to get a deal on handmade crafts

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Ticul’s downtown area is dominated by its 16th-century church dedicated to San Antonio de Padua. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Ticul is a small city of about 35,000 people 90 kilometers south of Mérida. Nicknamed La Perla del Sur, or Pearl of the South, the city has been continuously inhabited since Pre-Columbian times as early as the 7th century BCE.

Ticul’s identity is very much influenced by its Mayan past, a fact evidenced by the many contemporary Mayan sculptures and artworks found throughout the city.

The city itself is charming, clean, and is well known to people in Yucatán as the home of the state’s footwear industry. But Ticul is no one-trick pony. It is also famous for producing high-quality pottery. 

Nods to Ticul’s tradition of ceramics can be seen all over the town. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

When entering the town on the road from the nearby town of Muna, you will notice a string of several shops ceiling ceramic crafts, plates, ornaments, and pots. 

Most shops in Ticul have at least two or three large showrooms dedicated to different styles of ceramics. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The concentration of these shops is so high that on some blocks you may find up to five or six shops selling ceramic goods. This also means that prices are fairly low and you will be able to buy up items such as medium-sized pots for plants at around 150 pesos — roughly a third of what you are likely to pay for the same item in Mérida.

At most shops, you are likely to find ceramic pots of various shapes and sizes perfect for gardens. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

If you can’t find what you are looking for, which seems unlikely given the variety on offer, you can always have a piece made up to your own specifications.

Most of the ceramics produced in Ticul have a reddish color, a product of Yucatán’s natural clay. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

While exploring the ceramic shops you will come across all sorts of handicrafts and everyday items.

These colorful windchimes can be had at just 200 pesos and really brighten any patio or room. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

You will also find a variety of items replicating the ancient Maya aesthetic of the region. These reproductions vary greatly in quality and price but are usually handmade — unlike many items for sale at archaeological sites like Chichén Itzá which are actually imported from China.

Craftmakers often sell their goods in bulk to merchants who then resell them at markets or archaeological sites. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Though Ticul is best known for its ceramic crafts, some artisans also produce stunning wood carvings.

Large wood-carved reproduction of the sarcophagus cover of King Pakal the Great. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, business in Ticul has been rather slow. While some degree of bargaining is expected, make sure you don’t overdo it, as prices are already reasonable.

Before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ticul was a popular destination for people from Mérida looking to get out for a day trip on weekends and do some shopping. But on a recent trip, I saw only one pair of shoppers besides me and my companion. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

If you are interested in visiting several shops but don’t feel like walking around too much, you are in luck. Ticul’s trici taxi rickshaw drivers offer tours of the town’s many establishments.

Rickshaw drivers can be found on the street next to Ticul’s church. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

If you go

To get to Ticul from Mérida get on the highway to Campeche and then take the detour to Muna. Drive through Muna and continue southeast for 20 kilometers.

Signage and roads on route to Ticul from Merida are quite good, so you should have no issues. Photo: Google Maps.
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