Did you know that the authentic creators of the Alebrijes are not from Oaxaca?


Cartonería (Cardboard Art) is a technique that began to be used in Mexico since the Viceroyalty as a product of colonization.

The Linares family is the lineage in whose bosom the figure we know as Alebrije was born. Leonardo, one of the heirs, tells us the story.

The alebrijes were born as part of the cartonería

Cardboard making consists of molding moistened paper and hardening it through the application of paste and thus creating figures, which USD to have a religious use; that is, they were used for festivities organized by the church such as the “burning of Judas.”

Despite its religious origin, cardboard art was transformed rapidly and artisans began to make other types of pieces that have nothing to do with religion.

Other pieces of cardboard are piñatas, bulls, catrinas, devils, masks, and toys such as horses and “Lolitas” (cardboard dolls with their different pieces articulated by a cotton thread).

A long time ago, Don Pedro Linares, living in Mexico City and a traditional cardboard worker, fell seriously ill until he lost consciousness and went into a kind of coma.

As he did not have financial resources to treat himself with a doctor, his relatives administered a variety of herbal remedies.

Nobody knows if thanks to these remedies or simply to good fortune, Don Pedro Linares recovered from his illness and told his relatives that in his delirium he saw a wide array of terrifying, fantastic, zoomorphic creatures, with wings, claws, fangs, and horns, which repeatedly yelled the word Alebrije, Alebrije!

Nobody understood very well what these beings that had presented themselves in dreams were like, so he tried to capture them in the way he knew best: through cardboard art.

The first pieces were very far from those we know today since they lacked the color and patterns that characterize today’s Alebrijes.

Still, he made some and put them up for sale outside of his shop. He would never have imagined that one of his first clients would be none other than Diego Rivera, who was fond of “burning Judas” and regularly went to cardboard art shops in the area.

Attracted by the capricious forms of Don Pedro’s creatures, Rivera took some copies to his house and they were very successful among his friends and colleagues.

Over time, Linares’ creations were filled with color and incredible zoomorphic patterns that simulated the “skin” of monsters that came out of his imagination to make them less terrifying and more striking until they became the Alebrijes that we know today, thanks to the technique and knowledge has been passed from generation to generation.

Apparently a 1970s documentary about artisans from Oaxaca, featured a cardboard artist who made Alebrijes and from there arose the confusion that wrongly places Alebrijes as originating from that state.

Source: Mexico Desconocido

Mexco Daily Post