It's difficult to capture the intricacy of one of the outstanding crafts produced in Oaxaca called alebrijes. The painting is so delicate that it's often done with a brush having one single hair, or a small syringe and the carving is generally from one piece of wood. For example, the wings on the dragon in the photo below are not only individually painted but also individually carved, all from one piece of wood.
To get the most out of the photos, try clicking on them and then zooming in to see the detail work.
San Antonio Arrazola
The making of alebrijes in Oaxaca was initially established in Arrazola by Manuel Jimenez. In Arrazola, one of the community’s specialty is the carving of complex animal bodies, especially iguanas out of one single piece of wood.
We visited several shops in Arrazola and saw a variety of beautiful pieces. The prices ranged according to quality and after a while we could tell why one piece was priced differently than a similar piece.
San Martin Tilcajete
Of the three major carving towns, San Martin Tilcajete has experience the most success. Today, the carving of alebrijes is the economic base of Tilcajete. We were both captivated by the pieces we saw in Tilcajete and really liked the style of the Tilcajete alebrijes. The painting was more intricate with a variety of patterns and figures on the pieces.
We bought a few smaller pieces from one of the well known artists husband and wife teams, Ivan and Mayte. More information about them can be found at
https://es-la.facebook.com/public/Alebrijes-Ivan-Fuentes-Y-Mayte While we were in their shop, Mayte was working on this incredible piece.
There's an indigenous painting on the hindquarters of this piece.
It was all just amazing and we're so glad we were able to visit these villages. It was very special to meet some of the artists who were so friendly and eager to share their work.
Following are links to more artists and images of more fabulous alebrijes
Herencia de Cultura y Tradicion Nestor y Leticia Melchor