Where are alebrijes made? They are made in small towns outside the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. But where exactly is that? Thanks to handy googlemaps:
You can see Oaxaca is southeast of Mexico City (about 5-6 hours by car) and very far west of Cancun.
But alebrijes are not made in the city of Oaxaca itself, they are made in small towns just outside Oaxaca – primarily in the towns of Arrazola, San Martin Tilcajete, and La Union Tejalapan. On the map below Arrazola is indicated in purple, San Martin Tilcajete in yellow and La Union Tejalapan in red.
(Actually, La Union is not on googlemaps – shocking, I know – so I have indicated the town’s neighbor San Felipe. La Union is a bit further west along the yellow road.)
Due to traffic and road conditions, Arrazola takes about 25-30 minutes to reach by car from central Oaxaca city whereas La Union and San Martin take 30-40 minutes.
Arrazola and San Martin are the more successful alebrije-making towns and most members of these communities carve full time. Their success is reflected in the town, for example: the roads are paved, buildings are made of brick, and there is running water in most homes. Most artisans make medium to large size alebrijes from the trunks of trees and use acrylic paints.
La Union has been the least successful of the three, partially because it is the most difficult to reach; it is a small farming community where many households carve alebrijes in addition to practicing subsistence farming. They have dirt roads and most families do not have running water in their houses. As a result, their alebrijes are very different from those produced in the other two towns. They are much smaller, usually created from the branches of trees rather than from the trunk. They are also usually painted with aniline dyes that are made from plants, bugs, and minerals found on their farm. As a result, they retain a more rustic look and feel, hearkening back to the original alebrijes made 30+ years ago. They also remain truer to one of the original uses for alebrijes: toys made by farmers for their children while in the field watching their herd (for more on the origins of alebrijes check back tomorrow!).
Three Dreaming Rabbits is going to display alebrijes from San Martin, La Union, and Arrazola. Additionally, our NGO is going to work exclusively with these three towns to give back to them for giving the world so much.
From Mexico City, I wish all readers a great evening. Please check back tomorrow for more information on Oaxaca and alebrijes!
Three Dreaming Rabbits is a Mexico City based project devoted to alebrijes, hand carved and hand painted wooden animals created by artisans in small towns outside the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. Three Dreaming Rabbits features an online gallery and unique bespoke services so everyone can search for and obtain their perfect alebrije.
Three Dreaming Rabbits… what do you dream of?