The Alebrijes are imaginary creatures that feature elements from different animals such as dragon bodies, bat wings, wolf teeth or dog eyes, just to name a few.
Colorfully painted, they were originally made with papier mache but nowadays they are also carved in wood. The Alebrije was created by Pedro Linares Lopez in the 1930’s.
These brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures indeed fantastical (fantasy/mythical) creatures, that allow the Mexican artistic talent to emerge. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, were created by Pedro Linares.
Who was Pedro Linares?
Pedro Linares started as a skilled maker of carton Judas figures and figurines for Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and many other artists from the Academia de San Carlos. The art form of alebrijes was created by Pedro Linares after he became ill, when he was 30 years old. His own unique alebrijes originated from a dream, he had, depicting his death and rebirth in a mountainous setting inhabited by these fierce creatures.
While he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There were trees, animals, clouds, sky, rocks, etc.; he felt no pain and was very happy walking down there. Suddenly, rocks, clouds and animals turned into bizarre creatures; he saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and they were all shouting the word: “Alebrijes.” Every animal was shouting louder and louder: “Alebrijes, Alebrijes, Alebrijes!”.
The sound was terrible, and Linares was not able to stay there for long. His head strted aching and he ran along a stone road where another man was walking. Linares asked the man for help as he wanted to escape. The man told him that he should not be there yet, and then he woke up.
This unique form of Mexican crafts is created simply as an artistic object and not for a specific date or event. They are made of cardboard and wet paper, very similar to the technique used to make piñatas but with a wire skeleton.
Fnally, these animal shaped figurines have become a form of symbolic art important to the existence and development of the small villages that produce them in the state of Oaxaca.
The word alebrije means “imaginary” or “fantasy,”
The Mazatlan Post