Tonas, nahuales, alebrijes... a sacred link.09/12/2022
In Oaxaca the carving of nahuales is done, in the town they are also called "Tonas" which according to the Zapotec cosmovision are animals that mark our life when we are born, in the pre-Hispanic calendar there are twenty tonas: coyote, lizard, armadillo, turtle, snake, rabbit, deer, frog, dog, monkey, owl, eagle, jaguar, butterfly, fish, snail, chuparosa, tlacuache and mockingbird.
The tona is assigned to each child according to his or her day of birth and year.
These alebrijes are handmade copal figures where the imagination and creativity of the artisan turn them into a work of art. In Oaxaca and San Martin Tilcajete, life revolves around the alebrijes, since, from a very young age, the inhabitants learn how to carve and paint these incredible handcrafted pieces.
The copal is the wood that is usually used because it is resistant and not very hard, to give the first forms is used the machete, then the knife to continue giving the rustic finish and finally the blade for the fine finish.
To paint them, vinyl paint is used to give them a finer and more colorful finish.
Currently, copal wood is obtained from different regions of Oaxaca, from the canyons, Huatulco and Valles, which sometimes makes the wood hard or brittle, but the villagers have already planted several hectares of land in the town with these trees, which has reduced the cost and improved the quality of the wood.
Tree, good tree, that after the squall
you stood up naked and discouraged
on a carpet of leaf litter
that indifferently stirred the wind...
Today I saw in your branches the first
green leaf, wet with dew,
as a spring gift
good tree of the summer. And on that green tip
that is sprouting in you from I don't know where,
there is something that silently asks me
or silently answers me
* Fragment of the poem of the tree by Antonio Machado.
Marvel at these incredible works of art. Colored lines on copal wood, skillful hands that shape and carve tonas, nahuales "spirits" that slowly lodge in the bodies of fantastic animals that over time have been given the name of alebrijes, whose artistic value is highly admired, but that in the hands of artists from Oaxaca get a spiritual character and takes us back to pre-Hispanic times and its link with the sacred, where the gods had the power to become animals to interact with animals.