Wood Carvings from Oaxaca

Oaxacan wood carving

Generally, when the subject of folk art from Mexico comes up, people usually think of the wood carvings of Oaxaca. These colorful little ambassadors have become world-renowned as representative of Mexico and can literally be found almost everywhere. They have so saturated the thinking of what is Mexican folk art that it can be difficult to pull people away to see that the handmade arts of Mexico encompass so much more.

Did you know that this carving is from Oaxaca?  No?  Sadly, when one says, “wood carvings of Mexico” the carvings of artisans from the Oaxaca area bring to mind multi-colorful, overpainted, roosters with toothpicks sticking out of their backs. They come in many colors and are mostly animals with bright colors and lots of dots. Or fantastic creatures called, “alebrijes” which I’ve always found unappealing.

The Oaxacan carvings we carry at Zinnia Folk Arts are somewhat different. We prefer the more rustic carving style. This more primitive (less decorated) style comes from the tiny town of La Union, Oaxaca. Many of the carvings we carry are by the Santiago family. The pineapple lady above was carved by Eloy Santiago, and the cart below by his cousin.

Frog driving wooden cart from Oaxaca

The colorful musicians are another example of the more rustic style.

Oaxaca wood carvings

Another town in Oaxaca, known for its woodcarvers, is San Martin Tilcajete. And these styles, below, (hummingbird by Angeles family and tiny masks by Xuana family) are more indicative of the aesthetic in that town.

Which style do you prefer?

       Wooden Oaxacan Hummingbird

Tiny Oaxacan carved mask