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Things to bring from Mexico

Things to bring from Mexico

On the first place – the famous Mexican alebrije. According to the tradition, the term “alebrijes” began to use the family Linares de San Martin Tilcajete from Oaxaca, well known for its fantastic articles made of cardboard. Pedro Linares, a man of great talent, gave the name “alebrijes” to his souvenirs, the creation of which was inspired by his own dreams. It is said, that someone had promised him great sales and popularity of his articles and then he decided to make them of wood, because the cardboard - is a short-lived material. Since then the name “alebrijes” stuck not only for the articles of Pedro, but also the others wooden made figures of fantastic animals became to be called like this.

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In the town San Antonio Arrazola, also in the state of Oaxaca, where also this souvenirs are made, there is another version of their origin. It is said that in the early 80-ies of the las century Pedro Linares was visiting his relatives and showed them some of his alebrijes. Then the person named Manuel Jimenez decided to make from wood the figures of fantastic creatures who lived in his imagination in the style of folk crafts of Oaxaca. Anyway, however made of paper or of wood, alebrijes became a symbol of Oaxaca and Mexico.

The state of Oaxaca also presents the products from black clay, which in our list is in the second position. 

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In this region the people had been working with black clay yet in pre-Colombian times. It is known that the articles of this material was present in the culture of the Zapotec and Mixtec, the residents of the central valleys of Oaxaca.

In the 50-ies of the XX century, a woman named Dona Rosa from the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec, which situated in 16 km from the capital of the state, in her ceramic workshop discovered, that could affect the color and the shine of the articles of the black clay changing its production technique in the oven. By reducing the access of oxygen, the color of the article had being changing from red to deep black. Since that, vases, figures of animals and other articles made of black clay brought the great glory to Oaxaca. 

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On the third place of our list is talavera – a beautiful ceramic from the Puebla City.

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Its origin is still uncertain, however, it is said that its name the Mexican ceramic received from the similarity to Spanish talavera from the city Talavera de la Reina. However, it is not enough to affirm that the first potters of Puebla were from that city in Spain. It is possible that they were from Seville, as it was the starting point for emigration to New Spain, as well as the center of production of ceramic and tiles with Arabic influence.

While poetry has existed in Mexico, the art of glass and clay enameling came here from Spain at the end of the XVI century. In 1586 the pottery workshop was established, where the materials of good quality were used for the production of ceramic from the valleys of Puebla that greatly increased the prestige of the city.

Talavera is one of the few (if not the only) regulated crafts. In the middle of the XVII century the Viceroy created the guild of potters and the Code of Rules in 1653, which dictated the necessary conditions to be considered of a master of this craft, and the proportions in which to mix the clay and other industrial parts, as well as the rules of decoration of items and its quality.

On the fourth place in the list of iconic Mexican souvenirs are so popular in this country reboso, wide colorful stoles of the most diverse textures. Their production began in Mexico yet in 1764, in the city of Santa Maria del Rio, the state of San Luis Potosi. Originally, they were only designed for the women to cover their head before entering to the temple, later they were also used to carry children. This practice still exists today. 

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In the city, where reboso was born since 1953 there is a plant where you can observe the entire process of production, it takes from 30 to 60 days and consists of 15 stages.

Today reboso became a mandatory element of Mexican woman’s closet, whatever her economic circumstances. Many Mexican fashion designers use it in their work as an element of truly Mexican culture.

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The fifth place in popularity in the souvenir list from Mexico took the examples of Huichol art: painted boards, masks and figurines covered with beads, knitted of yarn crosses. The most popular of them are boards known for its psychedelic scenes that are created after using peyote – hallucinogenic cactus - by their authors. The figures with the beads represent deities and sacred animals. Huichol souvenirs mainly can be found in the state of Nayarit, in the north of Jalisco and in some areas of Zacatecas, as well as at the big souvenir market of the capital.

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In the sixth place of our list are the trees of life originating from the town of Metepec, in the State of Mexico. It’s a real miracle: the sculptures are made of clay look like chandelier, from very tiny to giant, which contains a huge number of small details. During the colonial period the trees of life were destined for learning by the local people the history of creating the world and other scenes from the Bible; nowadays for the creation of such sculptures a variety of topics is used. The master can spend up to three years for making just one tree.

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Sarape – a type of outerwear – is situated on the seventh place of our list. It is a typical accessory of the residents from the town of Saltillo, Coahuila, and its surrounding area; but even in the capital during the cold season you can see it, especially on children. Thick threads with which sarape is woven, are dyed with natural dyes; more than a dozen of colors may be present in one sarape.

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Of course, the list of popular Mexican gifts could not exist without silver – it is in the eight place. Since pre-Hispanic times the residents of the western and southern regions of the country (today´s states of Michoacán, Oaxaca and Guerrero) had perfect techniques to breathe life into this metal. Today, one of the best places where you can buy the articles of silver is the city of Taxco in the state of Guerrero. In the Fairytale Town, as it is called, you can see and become the owner of the best silver products of the world.  

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On the ninth place of our list are the products made of clay. Even in the pre-Hispanic times the inhabitants of the Mexican lands were the experts in managing this material, as it is testified in the numerous expositions in the many museums around the world. In course of time, ancient Mesoamerican pottery techniques have improved, and today in such cities as Dolores Hidalgo, state of Guanajuato, you can see a wide variety of examples of this craft – pans, jugs, pots with flowers and many others. 

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And finally, the last in our list of the most iconic Mexican souvenirs, but not less important, is the world-famous sombrero. Initially, they were used for protection from sun while working in the field, but in the XIX century a festive version of this broad-brimmed hat appeared for visiting the church and festive events. Today this headdress is the main attribute of mariachi – embroidered with gold or silver threads, with elegant accessories and decorations.

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