Artistic “dolls”

Despite being called dolls, the muñecas of Josefina Aguilar and her family are anything but playthings. To the casual visitor to Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca, there is nothing readily visible to indicate that the town is important to the world of Mexican handcrafts and folk art. It is larger than the surrounding communities, with a … Continue reading Artistic “dolls”

Oaxacan wood carving, reinvented and reinvented again

The word “alebrije” refers to two separate traditions of making colorful creatures of varying sizes. In central Mexico and some other places, it refers to the making of creatures which are an amalgam of parts from real and imaginary animals, and even sometimes people. It is part of a larger craft tradition of paper mache … Continue reading Oaxacan wood carving, reinvented and reinvented again

“Realistic” devils

45-year-old Alejandro Vera Guzman has dedicated his life to the local Mixtec culture of his hometown of Santiago Juxtlahuaca, principally through the making of masks. He is a recognized "grand master" of his craft (really art), although he does not come from an artisan family. His interest in making masks began with his interest in … Continue reading “Realistic” devils

Sliding a rebozo through a wedding ring

The rebozo is one of, if not the most, visible element of traditional Mexican women's dress. Despite the fact that it has almost disappeared in daily use, Mexican women own at least one, and these are almost always pulled out to celebrate Independence Day, if nothing else. The rebozo is made in various localities in … Continue reading Sliding a rebozo through a wedding ring

Ceramics, history and a little ice cream for dessert

For most Mexicans, the town of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato is best known as the "cradle" of the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), when Father Miguel Hidalgo rang the church bell at 11pm on the 15 of September to call people to arms against Spanish rule. At that time, it  was a rural town dependent on … Continue reading Ceramics, history and a little ice cream for dessert

Blowing up Judas

Mexican folk-Catholic traditions are based on those of Spain, and are often reinterpreted (and reinterpreted again) based on the country's culture, history and current social concerns. One of these relates to the creation of an effigy of Judas Iscariot for Holy Saturday. In many southern European countries, there has been a centuries long tradition of … Continue reading Blowing up Judas