Alebrijes are small animals and fantasy creatures, painted in the most amazing designs. Most are made of paper mache, but some of the better quality ones are made in wood. You can find them all over Mexico, but they are most famous in the state of Oaxaca.
Alebrijes were invented in the 1930s by a dude called Pedro Linares, who apparently “fell ill” one night and had a bizarre dream in which he envisioned strange creatures; a lion with an eagle’s head, etc. A more plausible explanation was that someone slipped him some peyote or mushrooms. He awoke from his dream state and immediately went about making sculptures of his new creations, which he called “Alebrijes”.
Eventually his work caught the attention of prominent artists, such as mega-duo Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera, and the rest is history. Contemporary pieces draw inspiration from supernatural creatures from indigenous folklore. The photos of the huge ones I took in Mexico City in the annual national Alebrije competition, sponsored by the excellent Museum of Popular Art.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images.