Mexican Paper Crafts

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Mexican Paper crafts not only demonstrate the creativity and skills of Mexican people but show their history and cultural background.

A kind of textile was used by Mesoamerican cultures as a paper from the beginning of the first millennium BC (3000 years ago). They were two kinds of this "paper", the amatl made from tree bark and the metl made from the fibers of the maguey.

The Mayan and Aztec codices were written in amatl. The Aztecs used the amatl covered with melted rubber and dyed or painted to decorate religious sculptures, shrines, sacrifice places and burials.

After the Spanish conquest the native paper making dwindled and before the end of the 16th Century the first paper mill in America was built in Culhuacan, a small town near Mexico City.

A very thin and colored paper called papel de China, tissue paper, arrived with the Nao of China and was used to make paper decorations.

Mayan Codice

Madrid Mayan Codice.

Nowadays paper is used in several folk art styles and is cut and shaped into colorful ornaments to decorate the different celebrations in the Mexican calendar.
Some of the most characteristic folk art styles and decorations are:

Amate Paper Paintings
Amate paper is made in San Pablito Pahuatlan the same way it has been made since Pre-Hispanic times. The Painting is done in the Mezcala region in Guerrero by Nahuatl speaking folk artists.

The Amate Paintings were pioneered by Pedro de Jesus and Cristino Flores Medina from Ameyaltepec in the 1960's and the new style soon spread in the whole region. Internationally known printmaker and painter Nicolas de Jesus arose from this school.

Amate Drawing
Amate paper drawing

Mexican Paper Flowers
Artisanal, bright and colorful, Mexican paper flowers are famous around the world for their beauty. Used as a substitute when natural flowers are not an option, they are enjoyed as ornaments in celebrations or used to decorate tombstones and altars during the
Day of the Dead celebrations.
Mexican paper flowers

Chiseled Paper
Papel picado or cut paper flags are strings of different color paper sheets that are chiseled to create custom patterns. The strings are hanged from street polls and house ceilings to decorate the different Mexican celebrations.

Chiseled Paper
Day of the Dead chiseled paper

Paper Filigree or Quilling
Quilling is the art of rolling strips of paper in a tool with a needle on its tip to form basic shapes that are glued together creating all kinds of figurines such as flowers, butterflies or Christmas ornaments.

Quilled flowers

Quilled Flowers

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