What is the Significance of Hands in Mexican Folk Art?

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in the shop is, “What is the significance of the hand in Mexico?”

Hand motifs do appear in many pieces of jewelry and religious iconography from Mexico and though there is no absolute answer to the question,  here are a few ideas.

One of the most obvious answers is that the hand is so important to all of us in terms of making things (hand-made), performing, communicating, praying (especially when 90% of the country is Catholic) and in making us human. This is just as true in Mexico as it is in other places.  The heart in the hand (another common image in Mexico) is a traditional folk art motif, associated with the Shakers, the Amish, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.  It is widely considered to symbolize charity, or to mean something is “from the heart”. Others consider it to represent friendship, love and truth.

The hand motif in Mexican jewelry probably increased after Pablo Picasso’s gift of the silver hand-shaped earrings to Frida Kahlo in the 1930’s or 40’s. She painted herself in them and many nicho boxes and retablos created around Frida’s image contain those famous paintings. Some Mexican artisans make beautiful hand-shaped earrings.

Here are a few pieces we currently have in the shop that can give you an idea…

Nickel Silver Frida Kahlo Necklace & Earrings, Zinnia Folk Arts

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Contact us for this lovely wooden hand covered on one side with milagros. It is $58 and measures 7″ by 4.35″ wide.

Guadalupe EArrings, Zinnia Folk Arts

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This beautiful and amazing carved hand is covered on both sides with milagros. It costs $166 and measures 10.5″ tall by 4.5″ wide.

Nickel Silver Frida Kahlo Necklace & Earrings, Zinnia Folk Arts

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Zinnia Mexican Folk Arts Shop

I thought you might be interested in the most recent look at  how we like to display Mexican folk art at Zinnia Folk Arts shop! We wanted to move the holiday decorations out so I decided to put the vintage (1960’s White Period) Heron Martinez tree of life in the front window and build a colorful support cast of a variety of Mexican crafts. The color is so welcome during these grey days in Minnesota…it’s actually raining today. Enjoy the photos and of course, if you’re in Minneapolis, stop in. We’ll be waiting for you. Saludos!

Zinnia Folk Arts Shop, Minneapolis MN

Zinnia Mexican Folk Arts, Minneapolis MN

Zinnia Folk Arts, Minneapolis, MN

Zinnia Folk Arts Shop, Minneapolis MN

Zinnia Mexican Folk Arts Shop, Minneapolis MN


Custom Made Pinatas

This is the season for pinatas in Mexico. Big ones, small ones. The pinata maker in town will make lots of different ones to be purchased by families who will host the procession of visitors who go door to door looking for shelter–just like Mary and Joseph did so many thousands of years ago. The “Posadas” started yesterday, December 16th and will proceed every night until December 24th. The party at the last house will include the pinata game for children (and some adults). The pinatas traditionally have a clay pot in the center and then paper mache surrounding the pot and the star points. They come in lots of colors and sizes and designs and they are always a treat to see. Most public spaces will feature giant pinatas as decorations and they are especially gorgeous.

I have been embellishing pinatas since I started Zinnia Folk Arts several years ago and have several in the front of the store that I use for decoration. Over the years people have asked me to make them for their parties, bridal showers or weddings. This very pink pinata in the after photo is going to decorate a very sweet young girl’s room. I thought you’d be interested in seeing the before picture and the after.  It used to be a Minnie Mouse pinata and now is a pink and green confection. Enjoy!

Here’s the before:

Before of Custom Pinata

And here’s the after!

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The Virgin of Guadalupe and Mexican Folk Art

In Mexico, December 12 is the Fiesta of  la Virgen de Guadalupe. Pilgrims from all over Mexico walk, ride buses, drive, ride bikes and even walk on their knees to arrive at the Basilica of Guadalupe that was built on the hill where Juan Diego saw the Virgin three times in the 1500’s. The tilma that was seen by Juan Diego is preserved in the Basilica and many, many people make pilgrimages to see it and to pray for help of all kinds. But it’s not just in Mexico City that people remember and celebrate her today–it’s everywhere in the country.

Guadalupe is a world-famous icon of the Virgin Mary. She is fondly known as the “Queen of Mexico.” Her image can be found everywhere in Mexico. She’s recognizable by the golden rays that surround her image and by the little cherub at her feet.

Here’s a photo of the original Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Mexico City Basilica de Guadalupe

Yes, it’s sinking! That’s partly why a new Basilica was built to the left of this photo. I like the old one better.

Basilica de Virgen de Guadalupe

Light a candle and leave it outside one of several chapels on the Tepeyac Hill.

Lux Mexican Religious Candle

We carry 5″ tall Lux Candles. Take off the tissue paper and the lid, light it and wait for the image to be illuminated by the flame (it will take a while).

Folk artists use her image in every imaginable way and express their love and admiration for her through their media.

Ocumicho Guadalupe Wall Plaque

This is  the Virgen de Guadalupe according to the Purepecha people of Michoacan. The whimsical Guadalupe wall plaque was made in Ocumicho.

Virgen de Guadalupe Wall Hanging Plate

Wooden bateas (carved trays) painted with the Virgin’s image come from Michoacan. These are decorative and are meant to be hung on the wall or set in a holder for display.

Reverse Glass Paintiing of the Virgen de Guadalupe

This is a reverse glass painting of la Virgen. The technique is an old-fashioned one but is being revived by a Mexico City artist, Manuel Bauman.

Wooden Retablo with Guadalupe & Saints, Mexico

This is a large and lovely retablo with many saints on wood and painted in Michoacan. Available in the shop or by email!

Tin Cross with Virgin of Guadalupe

This gorgeous tin cross decorated on the inside with Guadalupe and the symbolic roses comes from Oaxaca. Available in the shop or by email!

Guadalupe Earrings, Nickel Silver

Nickel Silver earrings with the image of the Virgin available here.

Decorative Boxes with Virgin of Guadalupe

And of course decorative boxes! These are especially lovely and very unique. They are from Mexico City. Available in the shop or by email.


New Mexican Silver Jewelry from Taxco And Other Places!

Silver Mexican Jewelry from Taxco

Ok, it’s not ALL Mexican jewelry. The bead bracelets are from Guatemala–a very nice young man stopped in the shop with some beautiful bead work bracelets and I bought a few to see how they would sell. They are available right here.  But if you’re looking for even nicer bead bracelets from Mexico, the handwork of the Huichol Indians is (in my mind) unsurpassed. Those exquisite and super liquid-y designs are right here but not in the above photo.

The slightly more contemporary designs of a Oaxacan arracada  (bottom left corner and top right corner) are from another person who dropped into the shop, a Mexican-American woman visiting Minneapolis from Los Angeles. They are .925 silver and are beautiful. Fancy but not over the top. Those are available right here.

The lavender sachet is lovely and I bought a bunch of them in Guanajuato. They are embroidered and then some old Mexican coins are attached at the corner. Lovely gifts available here.

In the middle right box are a pair of Mazahua earrings with kissing lovebirds and a single drop. They are from just outside Mexico City and are a tried and true every day earring. The kissing birds are very typical of Mazahua earrings and they represent love, peace and serenity. Available here.

All of the others I purchased on my last trip to Mexico in Taxco. Some are traditional motifs and some are a twist on the traditional. One of them is an Aztec design combined with dangles to make a more contemporary earring. They are all sterling silver and they are all for pierced ears. Click on the following to find them:

Filigree Dangle, Upper left corner

Winged Birds with Dangles, Upper Middle (contact me, I forgot to put them on the website)

Oxidized Silver Sacred Hearts, Middle left

Aztec Motif with Dangles, Lower Middle

As always if you have any questions, please contact me below!

Saludos, Anne


Mexican Folk Art Plates from Delores Hidalgo, Mexico

Mexican ceramics from Delores HidalgoMexican ceramics from Delores HidalgoMexican ceramics from Delores HidalgoMexican Ceramics from Delores Hidalgo
Summer is winding down in Minnesota,  but if you aren’t quite ready to let it go (or you live in a warm weather climate all year-long–lucky you) take a look at this handmade Mexican folk art from the town of Delores Hidalgo. These cheerful Mexican crafts are made individually the old-fashioned way. Yes, on a wheel and then glazed and fired. They are safe for eating (no lead) and can go into the microwave and dishwasher. These somewhat low fired ceramics can chip so it’s a good idea to treat them with respect. (No juggling.)

Almost every region of Mexico makes objects out of clay. In the state of Guanajuato, Delores Hidalgo is known for making “talavera.” There are hundreds of shops selling a wide range of ceramics in varying levels of quality. Talavera is a style of ceramic work that was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards after the conquest in the 1500’s. The other city that is perhaps even more well-known for talavera and is home to many masters of the craft, is Puebla in the state of Puebla. Puebla is home to one of the best, Uriarte. The styles of the talavera in the two cities are somewhat different with Puebla being even more Spanish in tradition. Another offshoot of these functional Mexican crafts is “majolica” and that can be found principally in the city of Guanajuato. Gorky Gonzalez is one of the famous potters of Guanajuato and many people recognize the Gorky style immediately. Another well-known majolica artisan in the city of Guanajuato is Capelo.

The functional Mexican folk art ceramics of Mexico are beautiful and we carry a lot of them in the shop at Zinnia Folk Arts. Stop in to our Twin Cities store or take a look right here!


Handmade Silver Jewelry from Mexico

Here are a few photos of our latest shipment of silver beauties from Mexico. Some of these pieces can be purchased from the website. If you’re interested in the others you can send me an email with an inquiry.

All of them are in the shop at 826 West 50th, Minneapolis, MN…612-824-4342…Gracias!