The Unique Artesenia from Oaxaca
In 1936, Pedro Linares first began making decorative figures. He used bright colours, complex shapes, wings, horns, tails, fearsome teeth and big eyes. Later on in the 1960s, he started making these figures from wood.
Legend has it that Pedro Linares began hallucinating while he was seriously ill. In these visions, he was in a beautiful place, the pain was completely gone and he felt a great happiness. Everything around him turned into strange looking beings such as lions with eagle heads or donkeys with butterfly wings. They whispered a term he had never heard before.
When he awoke from his feverish dreams, he could only remember the word “Alebrije”. He told his family and friends about his dreams and recreated these strange paper mache creatures, so they could better understand these animals.
A gallery owner from Cuernavaca discovered Pedro Linares figures and made them famous all over the world. The tradition spread quickly and it became one of the best-known artistic customs particularly in Oaxaca and all over Mexico as well. Linares received the Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes en la Rama VI, Artes y Tradiciones Populares, a Mexico State Prize for Folk Art. Some of his work can be seen today in the Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico City.
Alebrijes are said to keep mischief away in Mexican households and protect children’s dreams. We highly recommend bringing one of this colourful traditions home with you as a souvenir.