If there is something that combines with the beautiful nature of Oaxaca, it is the folk art made by its people, who, with talent and creativity, express the sensations of their land. This shows to be true in each of their beautiful creations carved in all sorts of materials, ranging from wood to precious metals, which reflect the talent of their hands, keeping the heritage of their traditions alive. Confirm that throughout the state there are a variety of craft markets and enjoy the skill of the artisans who offer the richness of its people captured in color, texture and the authenticity that has given international fame to the Oaxacan crafts.
Without any doubt, alebrijes are one of the most fascinating creations throughout Mexico and the world. The legend says that the original creator had a strange dream where he saw a forest full of fantastic and colorful animals with wings, fangs, horns; since then, artisans of that region adopted the term “alebrijes” and developed unique shapes using machetes and knives, acquiring the knowledge of woodcarving from generation to generation. Due to the spectacular nature of these figures, some consider them much more than handicrafts, categorize them as true works of art and exhibit them in prestigious galleries. Some of the places where you can buy these pieces are San Antonio Arrazola, San Martin Tilcajete and Union Tejalapan.
One of the most common activities carried out in Oaxaca is pottery. In communities such as Atzompa, this is the traditional activity of the people, who every day produce beautiful handmade dishes, vases, fruit bowls, pitchers and even clay toys, as well as glazed earthenware. In San Bartolo Coyotepec, you can find the famous black clay, which has an international reputation for manufacturing decoration products using an ancient technique in which the processing time is the key to the creation of quality articles, which may even be displayed in museums around the world.
If we could select a craft that defines de city of Oaxaca, we would choose textiles. This handcraft dresses up the territory with quality and originality due to the unique designs that date back to the old pre-Hispanic and colonial times. Backstrap or treadle loom woven with cotton thread dyed with bright colors, the product of this activity proudly represents the ancient heritage of the region in tablecloths, carpets, curtains, blankets, shawls, and even huipiles, as well as regional silk and velvet costumes with colorful fine embroidery.
Since the arrival of the Spaniards in Oaxaca, goldsmithing has been one of the most sophisticated handcrafts for its diverse designs in gold and silver jewelry. This work has obtained international prestige due to the combination of metals with precious stones such as turquoise, obsidian, amethyst, amber, coral and onyx. If you want to show off with a unique craft of historical value, check out the necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, bangles and other decorative articles offered by goldsmiths. Another handcraft manufactured since colonial times is iron forging, produced skillfully in villages like Tlacolula and Jamiltepec. If we want to talk about metal crafts, we should mention cutlery; machetes, knives, swords, daggers, decorated with landscape engravings accompanied by a popular proverb.
Other crafts that captivate tourists is basketry, which remains in its place thanks to the artisans who continue to work with green reed and offer traditional hand baskets, fruit baskets, breadbaskets, vases, crates and other ornaments in places like San Raymundo Jalpa, Eda, Ocotlan and Tlacolula. In addition to this, the people of the Mixteca region are experts in creating bags, rugs, hats, backpacks, briefcases and many more palm handcrafts.
Art and painting live in the veins of the Oaxacan people, which reflects in their history, in the great works of contemporary artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Franciso Toledo and Rodolfo Morales, who proudly represent the modern art of Oaxaca. That applies as well to Oaxacan artisans, who create with their hands unique pieces that can be yours on your next visit.