Mexican Paper Flowers

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Mexican paper flowers are distinguished among other paper flowers because of their meticulous craftsmanship and the vivid colors used to make them.

Made out of tissue or crepe paper, they go beyond the utilitarian craft and become pieces of folk art representing the soul and culture of the artisans that make them.

Paper flowers are used to decorate parties, weddings and religious celebrations often substituting natural flowers.

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Mexican Paper Flowers History
In Pre-Hispanic times a fiber called amatl, made out of tree bark, was used to write the Aztec and Mayan codices and was also utilized to ornate ceremonial places and burials.

After the Spanish conquest, paper brought from Spain became widely used, and in the 16th Century the first paper mill in America was built in Culhuacan, a small town near Mexico City.

A few decades later, a thin and colored paper called papel de China (tissue paper) arrived with the Manila Galleons and was soon used to make paper decorations like paper flowers and cut paper flags.

Paper flowers were used to decorate the church in times of the year were natural flowers were not available.

The craft evolved as talented artisans made different types of flowers in a great variety of shades accomplishing realistic, bright and colorful paper flowers.

Nowadays Mexican paper flowers are not only used in Mexico, but as they have become quite popular around the world are sold in tourist destinations and exported to other countries.


Special Flowers in Mexican Culture
Many kinds of flowers are reproduced in paper, but those having cultural significance are favoured by buyers and, therefore, easier to find:
  • Dahlia  (Genus: Dahlia)
  • The dahlia is native to Mexico. The Aztecs named it Acocoxochitl meaning "hollow stems flower" and was used for ceremonial, medicinal, ornamental and alimentary purposes.

    In 1789 seeds of dahlia were first sent to Europe to the Madrid Royal Botanical Gardens in Spain; there the flower was classified and named Dahlia to honor Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.

    On May 13,1963 Mexican president Adolfo Lopez Mateos proclaimed the dahlia as Mexico's National Flower.

    Paper dahlias are widely used as decoration flowers for houses and parties.

    Dahlia wild and cultured

                Wild Dahlia  (Dahlia coccinea)                                       Cultivated Dahlia


  • Cempasuchil  (Tagetes erecta)
  • Also known as Mexican marigold and flower of the dead, the cempasuchil is a plant that grows in central Mexico blooming in autumn yellow or orange flowers.

    The name comes from the Nahuatl word zempoalxochitl which means twenty flowers and was the flower the Aztecs used to adorn their tombs.

    In present times, during the Day of the Dead celebrations, natural and paper cempasuchil are used all around Mexico to decorate altars and tombstones.

    Cempasuchil Tombstone



  • Alcatraz  (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
  • Calla lilies became a popular flower in Mexico thanks to Diego Rivera's paintings which portrayed indigenous people carrying alcatraces.

    Nobody knows for sure why he chose these flowers; some historians say it was president Lazaro Cardenas who asked Rivera to create the paintings and others say Frida Kahlo, his wife, loved calla lilies. Whichever it was the reason, the alcatraz became an icon in Mexican culture.

    Paper calla lilies are sought after by tourists that identify the flower with Mexico and bring them home as a souvenir.

    The Flower Seller by Diego Rivera

    The Flower Seller by Diego Rivera.


  • Rosa  (Rosaceae Rosa)
  • The rose is probably one of the most popular flowers around the globe, often symbolizing love and grace.

    Roses have a significant place in Mexican religious traditions; they play a key role in the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe appearance before peasant Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill.

    The virgin asked him to climb the hill and pick the roses that he would find in bloom, despite being winter, arrange the flowers inside his tilma and bring them before the Bishop as prove of her appearance.

    When Juan Diego unfolded its cloak before the prelate, the roses cascaded from the cloth showing an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously impressed on it.

    Paper roses bouquets are used to decorate houses and as ornaments in parties and celebrations.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego



  • Girasol  (Helianthus annuus)
  • Although it was believed sunflowers were domesticated in the Mississippi River Valley and brought to Mexico by the Spaniards, studies led by paleoethnobotanist David Lentz have revealed the sunflower plant was cultivated in the northern part of Mexico around 4000 years ago.

    The Aztecs called it chimalácatl, and its significance was related to the sun and the war. The plant was used for therapeutic, aphrodisiacal and ceremonial purposes. Nowadays in many communities around Mexico sunflowers are still used in healing practices.

    Natural and paper sunflowers are widely used as decorative flowers; they add warmth and joy to any place and have inspired many artists around the world, including Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh.

    Van Gogh sunflowers

    Twelve Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh.


  • Noche Buena  (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  • Known in the U.S. as poinsettia, the noche buena is a plant native from central Mexico. The Aztecs called it Cluetaxochitl which in Nahuatl means "flower with petals as resistant as leather". To the Aztec culture these flowers symbolized the blood of the sacrificed warriors.

    When the Spaniards arrived to the area and saw the plant flowering in December, they called it Noche Buena, which is the Spanish name for Christmas Eve.

    The flower captivated diplomat and botanist Joel Robert Poinsett, who was appointed the first American Minister to Mexico in 1825. When returning to his home in Greenville, South Carolina, he introduced the first poinsettias to the U.S.

    Paper poinsettias are used during Christmas not only as bouquets but to make decorated Christmas crowns and other ornaments.

    Poinsettias



    Mexican Paper Flowers for Sale...

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