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.