San Antonio Arrazola is
the birthplace of one of Mexico's most popular folk arts, the colorful
painted wooden figures.
Arrazola is a quiet town at the foothills of Monte
Woodcarving was introduced in the 1950s and within
a few decades reached global acclaim. It is with great pride that
the city refers to itself as the cuna de alebrijes (cradle
of fantastic wooden figures).
Typically carved from the copal tree (collected in the Sierra Sur
and the Mixteca), the wooden figures depict mythical creations and
monsters. The finest works are collected by aficionados and displayed
in museums and galleries around the world.
More than 80 families fashion fantastic figures or alebrijes
in San Antonio Arrazola. The craft was launched by Manuel Jiménez
Ramírez and spread to his family and neighbors. The success
led to a successful cottage industry.
Meet the wood carvers!
The region used to be more humid. Huge Indian Laurel
trees border the road into town. Years ago there were more giant
trees. Formerly sugar cane fields were irrigated to produce brown
sugar (panella). The land is now drier, reflecting increasing aridity
in the region.
The town hosts an annual fiesta on June 11.
Nearby are the towns of Xoxocotlán, Cuilapam
de Guerrero and Zaachila.
Up the hill is the archaeological site of Monte