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!
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.
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