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Pottery in black clay, Oaxaca

Arts and Crafts in Oaxaca

Textiles and ceramics are almost as renowned as the colorful alebrijes

Ricardo Espinosa REO/CPTM
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Around the city of Oaxaca, there are many villages dedicated to manual crafts. The various techniques of deshilado, embroidery, and wool weaving dress the communities of Teotitlán del Valle, Mitla, and Tlacolula, with beautiful textiles.

Others, such as Atzompa and San Bartolo Coyotepec, focus on pottery, and stun visitors with complex pieces in black clay and glass tiles, typical local crafts.

However, one of the most distinctive Oaxaca art crafts, known worldwide, are the alebrijes – fantastic, colorful animals that take their shapes from the twisting branches of the copal tree and are painted with contrasting and complex patterns. Created in 1936 by Pedro Linares, these strange animals have become the source of employment in the towns of San Antonio de Arrazola and San Martín Tilcajete, outside Oaxaca.

Saddle, knife, and basket making are other crafts from this area, which thanks to the legacy of different cultures, are full of color and provide manual work of surprising beauty and detail.

As for modern art, the galleries offer an infinite number of options for those in search of artists, thanks to the work of Francisco Toledo, a renowned Oaxacan painter and sculptor who has promoted artistic activity in his home state. 

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