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Alebrijes: Oaxacan Folk Art

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Erin Watson

on 10 February 2012

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Transcript of Alebrijes: Oaxacan Folk Art

Today, you can also find another form
of Alebrijes hand-carved by the amazing artists
of Oaxaca, Mexico. Each alebrije is carved
out of the soft wood of the
copal tree, which grows
plentifully in the region of
Oaxaca. The wood of the copal tree
is chosen for it's pliability and
gnarled form. Oaxacan artists take great care
chiseling away at the wet copal
wood. The carvers use tools ranging
from large machetes to small kitchen
knives to create the delicate features
of each unique animalito. Manuel Jimenez Manuel Jimenez is the father of Oaxacan alebrijes.
Once a farmer, Don Jimenez began carving simple
animals from wood and selling them. Don Jimenez's first carved alebrijes were large and unpainted. Over time, Manuel began painting his carvings with simple, beautiful style and color. Eventually, other villagers around Oaxaca
began carving and selling animalitos in the
markets as well. In the 1960s and 1970s,
the artform really took off
and today there are hundreds
of artists creating intricate and
detailed alebrijes. Don Manuel Jimenez passed away in 2005,
but his sons and grandsons carry on the family
tradition, carving in the style of its founder. Manuel's grandson,
Moises, with a
hand-carved frog
in front of a pile
of copal wood Today's alebrijes are characterized by bright colors and bold patterns. These details are created by the use of repeating lines, dots, and other small geometric shapes. Alebrijes:
Oaxacan Wood Carvings In the 1930s, an artist from Mexico City
by the name of Pedro Linares took ill and dreamed
of fantastical, colorful creatures. He
then decided to create likenesses of
these creatures out of paper-mache
and cardboard. He called these
creatures ALEBRIJES. Many current artists carry on the tradition of
Pedro Linares, creating massive, festively colored
creatures. In 2007, the Mueso de Arte Popular
began sponsoring an annual parade featuring giant
alebrijes made out of a variety of materials.
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