Carved and painted wood from Oaxacan villages
While many types of Mexican folk art have their origins in pre-Hispanic art and have evolved over hundreds of years, the much beloved carved and painted wood animals, birds, and alebrijes (fanciful monsters), that have now made three Oaxacan villages famous for their wood carving, go back only as far as the 1950s. Small wooden toys and masks were commonly carved before that time, but in the early 50s, Manuel Jiménez Ramírez pioneered more elaborate and colorful animals and encouraged other wood carvers to do the same. It was not until the 1980s that the work became enormously popular.
Oaxacan wood carving is some of the best known folk art in Mexico. More than 800 families in three villages make their living creating ever more beautiful and innovative woodcarvings. Among the most skilled and creative of these are Claudio and Teresa Ojeda, located in San Antonio Arrazola, right at the base of the magnificent mountaintop ruins of Monte Alban. The Ojedas have distinguished themselves by creating large-scale sculptures, and also by developing distinctive painting techniques that they preserve as their own and will pass on only to their two sons as a family inheritance.