Given the popularity of this beautiful folk art of hand painted wood carvings, it's hard to believe they have only been around in Mexico for about 60 years!
The monos de madera or alebrijes, or Oaxacan Wood Carvings, were originally created by a oaxacan carver named Manuel Jimenez and became so popular that other people from his town and a few other communities in Oaxaca began carving to have an extra income. Thanks to the popularity of these colorful and whimsical carvings, Oaxaca was able to benefit from a economical boom which served to bring many families much needed income in one of the poorest areas of the country!
Each artist has their own style of carving and painting, allowing each unique piece to shine with the personality of the maker. They range from delicate and intricate carvings to robust and powerful. Each one made from Copal wood from the surrounding hills and carved using machetes and pocket knives. after a few days of carving they meticulously sand down the rough form until a perfectly detailed piece is born of a their labor, often taking a whole week to complete. From their imagination they then take this wood carving, already full of movement, and hand paint each one with bright and colorful paint, embuing it with a life and and energy. The care and whimsy that goes into each piece makes these folk art piece a wonderful part of any collection!
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