Friday, December 7, 2007

fiesta in San Martin

Photo notes: lots of fun, adorable angels, beautiful ladies, dancing big heads (if you look closely at the dancing big heads, you can see that these are children from the size of the feet)
short video clips at the bottom
San Martin Tilcajete fiesta at a wood carver's home and village
I met a new friend in Oaxaca who buys alebrijes* from several families in Oaxaca. She has a good eye for quality carvings and I learned a lot from seeing what she bought. Over the years she has become friends with the carvers and their families, she always treats them fairly and respects their life and culture. So she was invited to a fiesta for the saint's day, for San Martin Tilcajete and she invited me to go along. As I understand it, the fiesta includes a child who "stands in" for the saint, he is the ultimate guest of honor and is dressed and treated almost as the embodiment of the saint for that day. The father made a promise at the boy's birth that he would give that day to the saint, which means that the father and family is responsible for the fiesta with food, drink, flowers, bands and the expenses associated with procession to the church, and of course, lots of fireworks.

Everyone there was so warm and wonderful to us, it was clear that was a very important day for the family and indeed the whole town.
*Alebrijes are fanciful woodcarvings, made in the villages of San Antonio Arrazola, San Martin Tilcajete, La Union Tejalapa, and San Pedro Cajonos in the state of Oaxaca.
Some are avidly collected by folk art museums all over the world and have helped some villages become more prosperous in one of Mexico's poorest regions.
These carvings are not derived from ancient traditions but in the 1930's were inspired by a dream when papier mache artist Pedro Linares fell ill at age 30 and who then had a miraculous recovery. After the dream and recovery his sculptures were brightly-painted with intricate patterns and bizarre creatures with wings, horns, tails, fierce teeth, and bulgy eyes that he called alebrijes.
Later, in the 1960's the Oaxaca carvers began making wooden alebrijes most often using the wood of the copal tree. Today there are wood carvers making just about any creature, real or imagined, some with levels of skill that are masters of art and design by any standard.

video video

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