The Alebrije is a Mexican surrealist craft that can be made out of cardboard, paper or wood with different techniques for modeling and artistic creation.
These can be in the form of zoomorphic animals or animals with peculiar characteristics that should contain very picturesque and striking colors in pure Mexican Style.
Some in its physiognomy can be constituted in a mixture of two or more animals or animals with plants, and even more, some of the imaginary beings conceived by the most creative side and brought to reality in the form of these precious figures.
The artisan Pedro Linares was dedicated to cardboard, which allowed him to create beautiful figures. Among the people he worked for, we can find Frida Kahloand her husband Diego Rivera.
When he reaches 30 years of age, Pedro Linares falls badly ill and is bedridden, totally unconscious. During this time he suffers different visions in which, from some clouds, strange animals appear. These beings were totally fantastic: a donkey with wings, a cock’s head with a frog’s body, and more.
These animals apparently made noises and howls; but they also shouted: “Alebrijes, alebrijes!” Although this word officially means nothing, it served to name the beings with whom he had dreamed.
Fortunately, Pedro managed to recover consciousness. Once recovered from his illness, he remembered everything he had dreamed of. Using his skill as a cardboard artisan, he shaped those strange animals and painted them as they appeared to him. In this way he was able to make known the Alebrijes to his loved ones.
Since then his fame did not stop growing. Pedro traveled to show his creations not only in Mexico, but in places as distant as Europe or the United States of America.
In recognition of his work, in 1990 he received the mexican National Prize for Science and Arts in the category of Popular Arts and Traditions.
The meaning of the word “Alebrije” is still unknown, however two assumptions can be made about it, based on words that contain a certain similarity in its root.
It is important to remember that Pedro made public this word, which was revealed to him through a dream, in his delirium, when he was seriously ill, prostrate in his bed.
First we have the words “Alegría”, “Bruja” and “Embije”, which respectively mean joy, witch and dyeing.
“Alegría”: From the Latin “alacer alacris” which means vivacious, animated, fast. “Bruja”: Nor is the origin known with certainty of this word but it could come from the Pre-Roman Hispania. Bruxa was the word that made its appearance on the peninsula. “Embije”: Action and effect of embijar. Embijar: paint or dye with bija (natural reddish dye)
According to this analysis, we would say that the Alebrije are Witches Painted or Dyed with Joy.
There is also another word that contains the same root that Alebrije and is “Alebrir” which means: To lie on the ground sticking against him.
According to this we could say that it is very similar to its lexeme but this meaning as can be seen there is no direct relationship with these figures.
As mentioned previously, there is no exact origin of the word, but we can conclude that the first analysis is the most accurate, since when observing them, the Alebrijes are somewhat monstrous, happy and colorful figures, all at the same time.
The next time you travel to Mexico and you see these little animals in the souvenir shops, do not hesitate to buy some, you will not only be supporting the perpetuation of the culture and cultural traditions of the country, you can also take a part of Mexico in your suitcase , back home. And remember, for many the alebrijes have a protective function towards their owner (just in case).