Paper Maché from Mexico City
There is a wide misconception that the friendly monsters and fanciful animals known as alebrijes were invented by the wood carvers of Oaxaca. But in reality, paper maché artist Pedro Linares invented them.
In the 1930s, Pedro Linares (1906-1992) was already working in paper maché. One night, he dreamed of surreal magical animals playing in a forest and all shouting the word, alebrijes. He began creating these creatures, called them alebrijes, and the tradition was born. His sons still create them.
In 1936, the Mexico City paper maché artist, Pedro Linares began creating fanciful creatures, which he called called “alebrijes.” Linares coined the term alebrije, which came to him in a dream in which fanciful creatures were dancing in the forest and calling out the word “alebrije,” (a made-up word).
Linares’s alebrijes inspired Oaxacan woodcarvers, who began creating these fanciful animals in wood in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Now, virtually all Oaxacan woodcarvers create some form of alibrijes, along with other more recognizable animals of all sizes. (The Linares family is still creating alibrijes out of paper maché.)