Indigenous woodworking traditions were augmented in
the 16th century, when Spanish settlers brought new craft
traditions and designs to the New World. Blessed with a tree-rich
environment, and encouraged by Spanish missionaries, Native
and immigrant artists fashioned a range of wood products,
from religious artifacts, furniture, and musical instruments
to more utilitarian bowls, boxes, plates, and toys.
Todays great masters continue to carve wood into pieces
that reflect Mexicos cultural mosaic. The tradition
of carving human faces on wooden animal figures has been kept
alive by artists such as Manuel Jiménez, who lives
in the village of Arrazola in Oaxaca. A spiritual healer,
orator, and carver of wood, Jiménez creates figures
in the shape of a nahual, a magic animal drawn from
pre-Hispanic and contemporary indigenous beliefs. In the Chiapas
region, artists make figurines representing the Virgin Mary
and St. Joseph, each dressed in miniature indigenous garments.
Artists also fashion wooden crosses and niches for statues
of saints, and apply gold leaf and paint to the garments of
wooden angels and archangels.
For more information,
please select here.