Antique Asian Works of Art from Ancient East

Oaxacan Folk Art Alebrije Lion by the Morales Family

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Americas: Latin American: Handiwork: Pre 1980: Item # 1305564

Please refer to our stock # W-FIG8 when inquiring.
Ancient East
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369 Montezuma Ave., #562
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2626

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DESCRIPTION: This majestic and colorful Alebrije lion is carved in a crouched position, staring at the viewer with bright blue and yellow eyes. His head is surrounded by a huge, flowing, yellow & brown mane. His purple and black striped tail curves over his teal body which is decorated with pink oval polka-dots. This noble beast is signed on the underside, "HECHO POR MAXIMILIANO MORALES S., FRANCISCO MORALES DE ARRAZOLA XOXO OAXACA MEXICO." Excellent condition. DIMENSIONS: 14.75" long (37.5 cm) x 9.25" high (23.5 cm) x 6" wide (15.3 cm).

CULTURAL BACKGROUND: Oaxacan woodcarvings, also known as Alebrijes, have been a tradition for generations in several small villages outside the capital of Oaxaca, Mexico. It has only been in the past 40 years that these beautifully carved and painted figures have become popular, and are now collected worldwide. Using rudimentary tools, these Mexican artists create fascinating figures out of fresh-cut copal wood. After drying and sanding, the carvings are meticulously painted with intricate patterns and vibrant colors, limited only by each artist’s imagination.

Alebrijes are Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. These whimsical carvings depicting animals, people, objects, and imaginary creatures are painted with intense colors and intricate patterns. The woodcarvings range from the simple, humorous and whimsical to exceptionally carved and ornately painted fine pieces of art by sought-after craftsmen. In the production of Alebrijes, typically males gather and carve the wood while women paint the alebrijes, with the most talented painters creating the most intricate and complex patterns. Collectors highly value the signed pieces; however, the Alebrije may have had many hands contribute to its making. Often the person who signs the alebrije is the person who is the most well known in the family or the workshop. A son may carve an alebrije in his father’s workshop, a grandson may sand it and a daughter may paint it. But if the father is the most well known carver, it is signed with his name.