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19 Jan 23 – Alebrijes

Alebrijes are hybrid creatures, Made up of different animal parts, they have vibrant colors and lots of detail. They are popular crafts from Mexico and created by Pedro Linares López. Today I am going to tell you its history and importance.

Alebrijes were invented just a few decades agoduring the first half of the 20th century. They are made of cardboard They are a fantastic figure that combines physiognomic elements of various animals, both real and imaginary. As such, the word does not have an official meaning, but it is said that it can have two meanings, either joy, witch and embije, which comes from embedding, painting or dyeing with a dye called bija.

Pedro Linares, cartonero by profession, He was born in 1906 in Mexico City. He started out as an expert in making cardboard Judas and other figures such as piñatas, skeletons for Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and a few other artists. At 30 years of age he fell ill; while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares had a dream where rocks, clouds and unknown animals moved. Peter saw a donkey with wings, a rooster with bull’s horns, lions with the head of a dog. Everyone repeated the word alebrijes over and over again. In his dream, the cartonero asked the way to get out of there and a human figure told him where to do it, explaining that it was not the time to be there yet. When he woke up, andThe plastic artist was surrounded by his family and friends who were praying around his bed and were happy to see him wake up.

Thus, he gave life to his vision and from there came these figures that are highly appreciated today. His first creations were so terrifying that people did not want to buy them, but little by little added color and details That made them much more attractive.

In 1975, British filmmaker Judith Bronowski made a documentary about his work. and this launched him to fame nationally and internationally.

It was until 1990, when Pedro received the National Award for Science and Arts as part of a celebration of his artistic career and his valuable contribution to Mexican popular art.

The cartonero passed away at the age of 86, but until today, his family continues the tradition of the alebrijes. These colorful figures gained popularity and thus artisans began to imitate Linares’ creations. In Oaxaca, artisan Manuel Jiménez decided to combine his carved wood crafts with Pedro’s colorful ideas.

Oaxacan alebrijes are made with copal wood and they are inspired by the idea of ​​nahuales, supernatural beings with the ability to transform into animals. This way of making alebrijes spread to other towns; There are currently three main communities specializing in the creation of carved wooden figures, as well as 150 families of artisans dedicated to the production of alebrijes.

Since 2007, the Museum of Popular Art of Mexico City has organized a parade of monumental alebrijes with the intention of promoting the arts and Mexican folk culture.

They have recently been associated with the Day of the Dead festivities, where the deceased are honored from a magical environment, full of art, color and spiritual and magical characters that accompany us after life and follow us on the way to the world of the dead or the world of the living. That is why, sometimes, they are placed in the offerings to help souls get there more easily.

Alebrije / Illustration / Pixabay