Los Alebrijes: Beyond the Visual

24/01/2023 Por Tayaupa 1
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Alebrijes, those enigmatic and colorful wooden sculptures that emerge from the imagination and skill of the artisans of Oaxaca, Mexico, are not merely artistic objects. Each of these fantastic beings holds a cultural and symbolic meaning that transcends the visual surface and immerses us in a world of mythology, spirituality and connections with nature.

A Brief Historical Tour

Although alebrijes are attributed to the artist Pedro Linares, who in the mid-twentieth century claimed to have dreamed of these creatures during an illness, their origin is not limited to this narrative. The alebrijes tradition has been intertwined with the beliefs and myths of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca, which has enriched their cultural and spiritual background.

Mythology and Spirituality

Alebrijes, in their essence, are considered spiritual beings and guardians of the dream dimension. They have their origins in Zapotec and Mixtec mythological traditions, where alebrijes are believed to inhabit the dream world, acting as protectors and spiritual guides. These fantastic creatures often embody a duality between good and evil, representing the inner challenges and conflicts we all face.

Dreams and Reality

The indigenous cosmovision of Oaxaca deeply values dreams as a bridge between the earthly and spiritual worlds. Alebrijes, being originated in dreams, become links between these two realities. These sculptures are not only appreciated for their visual aesthetics, but also become spiritual tools to access a deeper and transcendental knowledge.

Nature as Inspiration

A distinctive characteristic of alebrijes is their relationship to nature. The shapes and colors of these creatures often reflect the richness of biodiversity and natural cycles. Each alebrije is a testament to the deep connection between indigenous peoples and the environment around them. The hybrid forms of the alebrijes, which combine characteristics of various species, symbolize the interconnectedness of all life on the planet.

The Creative Process and Tradition

The creation of an alebrije is an artisanal process that involves wood carving and meticulous hand-painting. The details, colors and geometric patterns not only embellish the sculptures, but also convey the skill and dexterity of the artisans. In addition, the tradition of making alebrijes is passed down from generation to generation, thus preserving the cultural heritage and knowledge in the community.

The Marketing Challenge

The growing popularity of alebrijes has led to their commercialization and mass production. However, this trend can undermine the authenticity and richness of the tradition. It is essential that tourism and commerce respect the culture, art and values of indigenous peoples, promoting sustainable and respectful practices.

The Journey into the Interior of the Alebrijes

Ultimately, alebrijes transcend the merely artistic. They are portals to the spirituality, mythology and relationship with nature of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca. Each carved figure invites us to explore the recesses of our own psyche, to confront our inner dualities and to connect with the natural cycles that give life to this planet. Alebrijes, with their rich history and symbolism, remind us that art is an expression of the soul and a reflection of the cultural diversity that enriches our world.

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