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By: Amy Q


Credits: Unsplash

Alebrijes are Mexican Folk Art that brings creativity into the streets of Mexico. These mythical creatures were created by Pedro Linares. In the 1930’s Linares fell terribly ill with a fever, which caused him to hallucinate. When he lay in bed unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. When he was there, he saw trees, animals, and rocks. The white clouds above him suddenly turned into something strange, a kind of animal, an unknown animal. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, "Alebrijes". Upon recovery, Linares began to recreate the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and named this kind of art, Alebrijes.

His fantastic work caught the attention of a gallery owner in Cuernavaca. And in the south of Mexico and later, his spectacular work of art caught the attention of two fabulous artists, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. In the 1980s, a British filmmaker named Judith Bronowski arranged a touring Mexican art craft demonstration workshop in the U.S.A. featuring the artists Pedro Linares, Manuel Jiménez, and a textile artisan Maria Sabina from Oaxaca. Although the Oaxaca valley area had a history of carving animals and other types of figures from wood before, it was this time when Bronowski's workshop took place, Oaxaca artisans learned about the tremendous work of art of papier Mache alebrijes. Linares manifested his designs on their family visits, and in which they were adapted to the carving of a local wood called copal; this type of wood that they used for carving is said to be magical and made from unitado magic.

This version of craft or art has spread to several other towns, most notably San Martín Tilcajete and La Unión Tejalapan. And it has become a huge source of income for the area, especially for Tilcajete. The success of the craft, however, has led to the depletion of the native copal trees. Attempts to remedy this with reforestation efforts and management of wild copal trees have only had limited success. he three towns most strongly associated with Alebrije production in Oaxaca have produced several notable artisans such as Manuel Jiménez, Jacobo Angeles, Martin San Diego, Julia Fuentes, and Miguel San Diego.

Pedro Linares was born in México City (DF), on June 29, 1906, and he never moved out of México City. He had died January 25, 1992. Even when he died, his remarkable work of art continues to live on. Pedro Linares’s family of many people that live in Mexico City near Sonora Market, continue the tradition of making alebrijes and many other cardboard and papier-mâché figures. The customers that have visited include the Rolling Stones and David Copperfield.

His astonishing work had created spectacular fame for cardboard and papier-mâché figures. And his fabulous work will live on forever for his creativity will forever live on in our hearts.



Image: Unsplash

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