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The Legacy of the Purépecha, Michoacán’s Artesanías

Posted by Ashley Chumley

One could only imagine the inspiration of a place where lush mountainsides reach to the Pacific and giant monarch butterflies flock for a winter getaway. Its name meaning the “place of the fish,” more flows in the state of Michaocán than the animals that thrive in this natural haven. The folk arts and crafts of the native Purépecha people have thrived right along with its unique and rare fauna. Rich in resources and metals, the Purépecha  were able to avoid early takeover attempts by the Aztecs as they lacked little from their environment and harnessed weapons with the region’s copper. From the hands of Michoacan’s artesanías, pottery, ceramics, sculptures, masks, ornaments, textiles, instruments, toys, and figurines burst forth to weave together nature and tradition of the volcanic mountains.

A result of Spanish conquest, each of the more than 200 villages specializes in its own particular art form. And the region is not short of shops and fairs boasting this fine artistry. Giving homage to the early peoples of Michoacán, the artesanías, often of native descent, are highly skilled at their artwork or craft. Some of the most famous being the San Jose de Gracia’s detailed ceramic pineapples and Ocumicho’s diablitos, or little devils, that depict Hell‘s fate. Many of the processes involved are painstakingly slow using traditional techniques, as men and women are often designated to certain work. The hand-hammered copper of Santa Clara is a great testament to the intensive work involved. As the artesanías are a living history carrying stories before the Spanish arrived, it is no wonder that Michoacán is dubbed ‘the heart of Mexico.’

Meet the Artesanías

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2 Responses to “The Legacy of the Purépecha, Michoacán’s Artesanías”

  1. Purepecha says:

    I am descended from the Purepecha people, although at this point only by a fraction of my blood.

  2. redmanrt says:

    You write:

    “harnessed weapons with the region’s copper.”

    Where are these weapons?

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