6 typical Oaxacan crafts that you should know

abril 11, 2022

6 typical Oaxacan crafts that you should know

Oaxaca is a southern Mexican state that has it all: beautiful beaches, colonial streets, fantastic food, and amazing art. Today we would like to focus on its art.

It would be impossible to talk about art in Oaxaca without mentioning its wonderful people and the way they preserve their millinery traditions. Multiple generations of families dedicate their lives to perfecting the art of local craft. People all around the world visit Oaxaca just to purchase an original piece of “artesanía”, the word in Spanish for this beautiful handmade craft.

If you want to learn more about the Oaxacan crafts, here are 6 examples of the most iconic ones. Be sure to spot them while you walk around the streets of this fabulous region. 

Handwoven pieces

Here at Azul Mejicano, we believe that there are no better weaves in the whole world than those from Oaxaca. Artisans across the state have an innate talent for weaving beautiful pieces. Proof of that is our Mexican handmade bags, which are made from recycled plastic. From our backpacks to our tote bags, all of them have a perfect weave. 

Black, red, and green clay

One of the most typical crafts in Oaxaca is clay pieces of different colors. You will almost always find pots, vases, or planters. The incredible thing here is the elaboration process since the artisans do everything by hand following traditional techniques to achieve a special shine. One of the techniques, for example, is to bake the clay pieces in an underground oven. Can you believe it?

Alebrijes

alebrije

We cannot translate this word, it is too epic! Alebrijes are the product of a strange dream that an Oaxacan artisan had. In that dream, he saw combined animals, like donkeys with wings. This is how the idea of ​​carving and painting these unique pieces came to him. It is worth mentioning that depending on its size and complexity, an “alebrije” can take years to create.

Masks

mask

Wearing masks is a pre-Hispanic tradition that has been preserved for many centuries in the traditional towns of Mexico. In Oaxaca, artisans make them and use them in their traditional festivals. And although most are of animals such as tigers and lions, sometimes they also make masks of human beings. The material with which they are made is wood, and foreigners love it as decoration.

Palm crafts

palm crafts

Thanks to the fact that the palm grows a lot in the region, Oaxacan artists found a way to take advantage of it. With great skill and talent, these people weave palm to make beautiful pieces, such as “huaraches” (sandals), hats, and even bags. 

We love how the palm looks on our Mexican-style backpacks:

  • Alicia crossbody bag: a discrete and elegant cross body bag with leather straps to close it or adjust it to your size. In it, you can carry on your smartphone, wallet, sunglasses, hand sanitizer or anything else indispensable for a small adventure.
  • Lorena belt bag: so light and comfortable that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. It’s the best way to keep your essentials safe and within reach without losing style.
  • Sara backpack: Are you going on a walk to the beach and carrying many things? This backpack is perfect for you. You can use it as a bag or as a backpack, you decide!

Rugs

Oaxaca rugs

People from all over the world travel to Oaxaca just to buy a typical wool rug from the region, since it is a beautiful and colorful craft. The most valuable thing about this art is the technique because it is very traditional and even a bit old-fashioned. However, it is very effective. It is passed from generation to generation, and it is common to visit the workshops of the artisans to appreciate how they produce the rugs, thread by thread! A curious fact that you will love to know is that they dye the rugs with natural colors that they find in insects and plants.


The Artisans

We cannot talk about handicrafts without mentioning the people who make possible each of the pieces mentioned in this note. The ability to weave the palm is an art that is inherited from generation to generation. Before weaving, the palm leaf is cut into strips, cooked in hot water, washed and dried for about four days. If you want to color the leaf, dyeing makes the process longer. Also, you need to moisten the sheet, so it doesn’t break when you knit it.


Supporting artisans and giving value to their work makes it possible for us to enjoy beautiful and unique pieces. This is why we help artisans from Oaxaca and their families to have a better quality of life through fair trade and donations that you can make when buying one of our handmade bags.


If you want to know more about the work of Sara Flores, Marcela García, Wendolyn Martínez and Alicia Pinacho, click here.


Which Oaxacan craft do you like the most? Let us know!


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