Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art
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Skeleton Bread Vendor

MAURICIO HERNÁNDEZ COLMENERO
Skeleton Bread Vendor, 1997
Paper: Cut, pasted, molded, painted
Guanajuato, Guanajuato
 

When the Spanish arrived in central Mexico in 1519, they found a sophisticated society that recorded its history and beliefs in books called codices. The pages of these books were made from animal skins, woven cotton mantas, and a type of paper called amate, produced from the bark of the amate or jonote tree. Amate paper is still made by the Otomi Indians from San Pablito, Puebla.

Europeans introduced the paper used today for decorative arts such as papel picado, or elaborately cut paper. Artists use this technique to make strings of perforated flags that decorate streets, homes, and altars during holidays such as the Day of the Dead. Artists also use recycled newspaper and other paper to make alebrijes: supernatural creatures that incorporate dragons’ tails, wings, tongues, and claws, all painted in brilliant colors. Pedro Linares, Mexico’s principal producer of alebrijes, explains that his creatures project horror and humor, life and death, beauty and ugliness—dualities that reflect the ways Mexicans celebrate birth and death during communal festivals and religious observances.

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Felipe Linares
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