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What is Alebrijes/meaning/concept/elaboration

There are countless handcrafted creations in all corners of the world. In Mexico, the construction of alebrijes is very popular, they are figures made of cardboard, layers of papier-mâché and strips of newspaper. These figures represent some fantastic animal and are relatively recent, as they were invented in the 20th century by the Mexican artist Pedro Linares López (1906-1992). 

Some Mexican carters have managed to turn cardboard in the streets into art

These cardboard figurines are usually offered for sale during Easter season and are hung on a rocket to be burned at popular festivals. Alebrijes

It is worth noting that they are unique and handmade creations without any industrial process . The artisans who work these pieces are known as “cartoneros”. In some territories of Mexico the alebrijes are not made of cardboard, but of copal wood.

A brief sketch of the creator

Pedro Linares began to develop his craft activity in the capital of Mexico when he was still a child . He lived in extreme poverty and cardboard was the most useful and economical material to create some artistic structure . According to some testimonies, this skill was inherited from his father, who also taught him the art of pottery and the manufacture of piñatas. His first creations were simple color masks and very simple figures. Alebrijes

As reported by some of his immediate family members, in 1936 he suffered a severe ulcer that made him faint. This circumstance caused him to lose consciousness and fall into a deep and strange sleep. Immersed in the dream and very close to death, Pedro Linares had a vision of strange figures. When he woke up, he told his family about the mysterious aspect of some unreal beings and in a few days he created his first alebrije.

This word was also his invention, as he heard it while he was out. In this way, the original masks acquired a new spirit and thus the alebrijes were created.

In a short time, Pedro Linares’ art was recognized by two first-rate Mexican artists: Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo

As an adult, his three children learned that the craft of “cartonero” and the alebrijes had become a popular item highly valued in the capital of Mexico. Alebrijes

In the 70s, filmmaker Judith Bronowski made a documentary about this new craftsman. In 1990, he was awarded one of the highest distinctions, the National Prize for Science and the Arts.

Its alebrijes were recognized in the United States and in several European countries. On the eve of his death he was working on one of his plays.

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