Oaxacan Wood Carvings
Fans of wood carving might seem like the type of group that would be close-knit. After all, each person who calls him or herself a wood carver certainly must love carving wood, so it would stand to reason that they are all alike and share similar interests. Confusingly enough, this couldn't be further from the truth. People who love wood carving are split like a log when it comes to what kind of wood carving they love. A layperson, who has never delved into the world of wood carving, might not even consider that there are different kinds of wood carvings, but they'd be sorely wrong. Like any kind of art, the world of wood carving is surprisingly in depth. Would you consider a mural, a painting, and a relief to be the same thing? This is the same differences that split fans of wood carving. Some people prefer the totemic beauty of the midwestern native american art. Some prefer the trippy qualities of the tiki sculptures seen in many island cultures. Still, there are others that find themselves drawn more to the strange and colorful world of oaxacan wood carvings.
For those that are drawing a blank right now, the term comes from the Oaxacan valley, located in southern Mexico. This is the home of oaxacan wood carvings, and the people that still practice this craft are very often direct descendents of the Zapotec Tribe, that originated in Oaxaca. What sets oaxacan wood carvings apart from the many other wood carvings out there is, firstly, the fact that they are predominantly made from Copal wood. This is a softer wood that is taken from Copal trees, loved because of their soft wood and the fact that they grow back quickly.
While the wood certainly sets oaxacan wood carvings apart from the pack, it is nothing when compared to the finished product. Oaxacan art is immediately distinguishable from other kinds of wood carvings because of the often extremely colorful and outlandish design present in nearly all oaxacan sculptures. Bright, almost fluorescent colors that are mixed up in often humorous ways mark a sculpture as oaxacan. These carvings make great souvenirs for obvious reasons, but they are also sacred to the oaxacan people. It is little wonder why. These sculptures are beautiful and remind us of just how different we all are in many ways. Hopefully, these carvings will stick around for even longer.