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History of the Fantastical Alebrije

Alebrijes are Mexican folk art sculptures, made with bright colors, and are a mix of fantasy and mythical creatures. 

Mexican artist Pedro Linares, from Mexico City, originally came up with this idea in the 1930s. He fell ill and dreamt of a strange place similar to a forest, where he saw strange looking rocks, clouds, and other items that suddenly turned into strange animals. They were a mix of fantasy and mythical creatures with elements from different animals, such as dragon bodies, bat wings, and cat eyes. All of them were shouting one word: ¡Alebrijes!
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Once he recovered, he began creating these creatures he saw out of strips of paper. They later went on to be made from papier-mâché.  A gallery owner in Cuernavaca noticed his work, and then later, famous artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera also took interest in what he was creating.

In the 1980s, a British Filmmaker organized a Mexican art workshop with Linares as well as other artists from Oaxaca. These Oaxacan artists came up with a new way to make alebrijes from wood, as that was a popular material used for carving art pieces in the areas they were from. They used a local wood called copal, which is said to be magical. 
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So many artists have gone on to create various versions of alebrijes in their own styles, that alebrijes have since become a huge part of Mexico's folk art repository.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alebrije