Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Have you ever been to Oaxaca? It’s a place in Mexico you don’t want to miss. One of the things that make Oaxaca such an interesting and unparalleled place is the level of sophistication that surrounds its cuisine and its regional handcrafts.
One of the most famous handcraft of Oaxaca is the “Alebrijes”. I’m sure you’ve heard about Alebrijes before. Alebrijes are brightly colored pieces of Mexican folk art made from wood or papier maché. Alebrijes are hand made by artisans in Oaxaca, making them unique regional pieces of art.

Because of their bizarre animal-like appearance, I’ve always been intrigued by the history of Alebrijes. In one of my trips to Oaxaca, an artisan by the name of Juan told me the history of these bizarre and unique crafts. The story says that . a Mexican artisan by the name of Pedro Linares, laid in bed suffering from a severe illness. In his visions he imagined bizarre and extraordinary creatures that shouted the words "Alebrijes! Alebrijes! Alebrijes!." When he recovered from his illness, Linares began to depict the creatures that haunted his dreams. The tradition spread rapidly and became one of the most recognized artistic traditions in Mexico.

Today the artisans artists that make these wonderful figures are decreasing in numbers, and most of them have ceased to work as artisans and moved to urban areas in search of better paying jobs. I am convinced that supporting these artists is a necessary step to ensure that local artisans can have a life worth living, without detaching themselves from their traditions and communities.


Olinalá is a region found in the state of Guerrero in Mexico, three hours from Acapulco and about five from Mexico City. It’s a small town where a unique tree, the Olinaloe tree, grows... What is so special about this tree is the natural scent that emanates from its wood. This natural perfume is so pleasant, that inhaling it connects us with nature

For many years, olinalo wood has been used to make special products and handcrafts. The most famous are the “Cajitas de Olinalá”, boxes or chest crafted from olinaloe wood and paint with lacquer. One of the unique features of the “Cajitas de Olinala” is that even after the tree has been cut and dried, the fragrance from its wood is preserved and when opened, you can inhale its natural perfume. The fragance of Olinaloe is so potent, that boxes crafted from its wood can preserve its unique scent for more than ten years.

Olinalá is a fascinating place where we can find unique pieces of mexican folk art, out of which the cajitas de Olinalá are one of the most representative and distinctive products.