Alebrijes and Mexican Folk Art

Alebrijes are everywhere in Mexcio, you just cannot miss them. These colorful painted creatures are made of wood (with sometimes detachable pieces like wings, flowers, feathers etc.) or papiermaché and originate from Oaxaca. Wooden alebrijes were made popular by Manuel Jiménez, a master wood carver from Oaxaca. Got Happy Fish a new friend, couldn’t resist this green wooden bird. Wings are detachable and I love his feet!



*** Alebrijes – Wood ***

*** Alebrijes – Papiermaché ***


Couldn’t resist these cuties above, they measure about 2,5 inches. *** Diese süßen oben sind ca. 7 cm hoch und ich fand sie einfach unwiderstehlich!

These monsters are just too cool, love the one with the special “behind”. *** Diese Monster sind einfach zu cool, lieben den mit dem besonderen “Hintern”.


*** Huichol Art ***


Huichol is a native Indian tribe which lives up today in the Sierra Madre, in the western part of Mexico, close to Puerto Vallarta. “Apart from several previous records the existence of the Huichol had been perceived consciously by the modern world only during the last 50 years. This is very important, because it makes that tribe the last, nearly authentic native indian tribe directly connected to the Azteca history, maintaining the same ageless rituals and beliefs. They are considered by many anthropologists to be an invaluable window to the past.” Contemporary Huichol Art can be seen and found everywhere. “To preserve their ancient beliefs they have begun making detailed and elaborate yarn paintings, a development and modernization of the nieli’ka.” Yarn paintings are created by layering beeswax and pine resin onto wood or clay and then pressing fibers into the “glue”. I couldn’t resist the above mask which was the only artwork I found combining beads and fibre (here glued onto pottery).

Huichol Bead art (also called Chaquira) is relatively new. Beads are pressed into a wax-resin mixture (serving as glue) using such prepared beaded needles as shown above. I asked and finishing the beaded sun will take him about 2 days. The patterns and motives used are derived from their rich ceremonial traditions and shamanic rituals. *** Huichol’s Perlenkunst (auch Chaquira genannt) ist recht jung. Hier werden Perlen mit solch vorbereiteten Nadeln in ein Wachs-Harz-Gemisch gedrückt, das als Klebstoff fungiert. Hab nachgefragt und es dauert ca. 2 Tage, eine solche Sonne fertigzustellen. Die verwendeten Muster und Motive stammen von den reichhaltigen Traditionen und Schamanenritualen ab.

*** Retablos and Mirrors ***

Saw these gorgeous contemporary retablos/shrined mirrors in a gallery. I couldn’t resist the above gorgeous Day of the Dead retablo. The artists creates his figures with plaster and mashed potatoes. Enjoy your meal! Box is made of wood. Quite special!

Wunderschöne Retablos und Spiegel in einer Gallerie gesehen. Obiger Day of the Dead retablos hab ich mir gegönnt. Der Künstler gestaltet seine Figuren aus Gips und Kartoffelpüree. Guten Appetit! 🙂 Box ist aus Holz. Was besonderes!



*** Calaveres ***

… Couldn’t pass up on these 2 papiermaché calaveras (skulls) from Oaxaca. Very cool Day of the Dead decoration, mine are up all year! While there are mass produced clay calaveres, I saw unique and delightful ones in various galleries and shops, here are a few. And look what’s dancing in my car now… 🙂

Calaveras … konnte an diesen beiden Papiermaché-Totenköpfen nicht vorbei. Sehr coole Day of the Dead-Deko (bei uns Allerheiligen/Allerseelen), doch bei mir hängen sie das ganze Jahr über! bWährend es viele Ton-Calaveres in Massenproduktion gibt, hab ich in Gallerien und Läden herrliche Einzelexemplare gesehen, hier ein paar. Und schau mal, was nun in meinem Auto umhertanzt… 🙂



*** La Bandida ***

La Bandida – a new fabulous boutique in Puerto Vallarta with my kind of things from Mexico, India and more. Reminds me of my favorite shop Sugobo in Frankfurt, I know Susan, the owner would love it!

La Bandida – eine neue wunderschöne Boutique in Puerto Vallarta mit Herrlichem aus Mexiko, Indien und mehr. Erinnert mich an meinen Lieblingsschop Sugobo aus Frankfurt, Susan, die Besitzerin, würde er sicherlich auch gefallen!




 *** A few random impressions ***

Loved the contrast of the indians and the Mexican Goths at Jardin Hidalgo, spotted just down the road from the Frida Kahlo Museum. *** Klasse Kontrast zwischen den Indianern und den mexikanischen Goths. Gesehen im Jardin Hidalgo (Hidalgo-Garten), etwas die Straße runter vom Frida Kahlo Museum.

And last but not least, I love children books and found this one at the Frida Kahlo Museum: El Zopilote y la Chirimia (the buzzard and the flageolet ) by Gabriela Olmos and paintings by Valeria Gallo. My Spanish isn’t quite intermediate, so my kind of level. 🙂 Other than that, the books illustrations are painted in the Huichol’s yarn painting style and it’s a wonderful story, worth the money.

Zuguterletzt noch ein Kinderbuch, dass ich im Frida Kahlo Museum entdeckt habe: El Zopilote y la Chimiria (Der Truthahngeier und das Flageolett) von Gabriela Olmos und Zeichnungen von Valeria Gallo. Mein Spanisch ist mal gerade mittelmäßig und solche Bücher sind prima zu verstehen. 🙂 Abgesehen davon, hat dieses Buch wunderschöne Illustrationen im Stil der Huichol Garnbilder und und eine wunderschöne Geschichte ist, das Geld wert!


Jardin Hidalgo, Cayoacán, Mexico City

La Bamba – Puerto Vallarta Folk Dancers

30 responses to “Alebrijes and Mexican Folk Art

  1. gut, dass ich nochmal vorbeigeschaut habe! war schon gespannt auf diese fotos und kann deine begeisterung nun besser nachvollziehen! das warten hat sich gelohnt. bin stolz auf mein lesezeichen und das knuffige monster! 🙂

  2. Great photos!! I got a yarn painting last year and absolutely love it all over again everytime I look at it.

  3. kathy mcelroy

    What treasures. Cool pictures and a great story. You must have had a wonderful, memorable time.

  4. Dawnie Thomas

    Makes me want to jump on a plane right now ! Such cool pics of your travels and the yummy purchases, yummo !Will be back again for some closeups of the photography miss B.
    Love the cool chicka dancin in your car.

  5. Thank you for the wonderful eye candy. I will enjoy pouring over your photos this weekend.

    Jill in Florida

  6. ahhhhhhh…wunderschöne fotos. mein favorit sind papiermache muertos. einfach genial!!
    wünsche dir einen schönen sonntag. soll ein schöner tag werden. muss meine erdbeeren umpflanzen und leckere uhrmöhren sähen 🙂

  7. Wow what great photos!!! Thank you for sharing.
    I just love all the creatures and colours.

  8. Belinda, what wonderful pictures. I love all the bright colors.

  9. Wow, thanks for the wonderful pictures! Love the colors!!

  10. Belinda – these photos are fabulous! I’ve been to Guadalajara and Mexico City and really enjoyed my visits there. The colors are so bright an vibrant. You just can’t find the color Azul (blue) anywhere but Mexico. Thank you for posting these.
    You’ve been tagged. See my blog for details!

  11. What a fabulous post… thanks for sharing all of these wonderful images!!!
    Love those cute papiermache creatures and the Day of the Dead Retablos/Shrine are just fantastic. I want to be able to visit that shop “La Bandita”, never seen anything like it.

  12. What a fabulous post! I have seen alebrijes before and love the ones you got. La Bandita is an amazing shop. Thank you for sharing, also the wonderful videos! What a wonderful vacation you must have had.

  13. I’ve been looking forward to hearing/seeing about your trip to Mexico = WOW, it was worth waiting for! Thanks for sharing such colorful images and adventures = all SO wonderful! You do such a great job with your photos and videos! Those two goth girls were fantastic, really into it 🙂

  14. thanks for sharing all those fabulous pictures…I understand that you are so enthusiastic to go to Mexico, it reminds me of an exhibition in Brussels, a long time ago, maybe 15 years, where I saw for the first time all the colourful things prepared for the Day of the Dead…

  15. Belinda what a bunch of fanastic photo and treasures you have found and seen! I feel like I jumped into the world HAPPINESS with all the color and wonder! FUN!Hugs,Patti

  16. Great blog, your post makes me miss my “Mother Land”

  17. What wonderful photographs and the video’s are incredible! I just showed my students, some are from Mexico and are really interested in their heratige ! I will be back to see more, what a great blog…Roxanne

  18. What a huge treasure of a post! I’ll have to come back and read it thoroughly; right now the photographs have my mouth watering!

  19. eine liebevoll und wunderbar gestaltete Arbeit. ganz super !
    Ich lebe in Mexico und liebe dieses Land jeden Tag mehr.
    A wonderful and very complete job !!Congrats !

    Lo has hecho estupendamente, gracias en nombre de Mexico. : )

  20. these retablo pics are from peru handkraft ayacucho peru handkraft

  21. mexico hand kraft is interesting too but these peruvian retablo is not from mexico

  22. mirrors too please search ayacucho peru handkraft

  23. I think Mexican goths are cool, thanks for the photo.

  24. The retablos are peruvian – they look like they are probably made by some member of the Jimenez family, it has their look. The family is originally from the Ayacucho region in Peru but now they mostly work out of Lima, except for one brother who currently resides in Florida. Judging by the style it looks like it is probably made by either Mabilon and Eleudora or Claudio Jimenez, probably the former since Claudio’s skeletons are better than that. They are world class retablistas with international reputations.

  25. I am looking to sell a 5″ by 3 1/2″ beaded gourd bowl. Rare find, beads are on the outside of the bowl. Predominately decorated with deer. Have pictures. Please contact me if you are interested.

  26. kwl i like

  27. Louise Nickelson

    You have wonderful photographs! I work for a small museum, editing lessons a group of teachers write for other local teachers. Any chance you’d let us use a few of your photos for the lesson on Alebrijes? The teacher just used a book she had when she taught her class, but I can’t share those photos with other teachers. If you’re willing, email me please. Thanks!

  28. Louise Nickelson

    Oh, my email is

  29. Beautiful photos. I’m an art teacher. Just finished a unit on Latin American art with a project on alebrije. According to my research, you may have your facts wrong on the origination of these creatures. I believe they were the result of the fever-induced dreams of Pedro Linares in the early 1930’s. His family still creates these papier mache creatures in Mexico city; clients include museums and collectors. Because he was originally a native of the Oaxaca region, this genre became associated with artists from there; it is there they create the creatures from copal wood, a diminishing natural resource. I’d be happy to share my pwrpt with you if you e-mail me.

  30. I actually got into this post. I located it to be fascinating and loaded with exclusive points of interest. I like to read material that makes me believe. Thank you for writing this fantastic content. eddckdkdegfk

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