Cover image for Crafting tradition : the making and marketing of Oaxacan wood carvings
Title:
Crafting tradition : the making and marketing of Oaxacan wood carvings
Author:
Chibnik, Michael, 1946-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xix, 266 pages : illustrations, (some color) maps ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780292712478

9780292712485
Format :
Book

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F1219.1.O11 C443 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly coloured wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-20th century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit.


Summary

Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly colored wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-twentieth century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Michael Chibnik offers the first in-depth look at the international trade in Oaxacan wood carvings, including their history, production, marketing, and cultural representations. Drawing on interviews he conducted in the carving communities and among wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, he follows the entire production and consumption cycle, from the harvesting of copal wood to the final purchase of the finished piece. Along the way, he describes how and why this "invented tradition" has been promoted as a "Zapotec Indian" craft and explores its similarities with other local crafts with longer histories. He also fully discusses the effects on local communities of participating in the global market, concluding that the trade in Oaxacan wood carvings is an almost paradigmatic case study of globalization.


Author Notes

Michael Chibnik is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.


Michael Chibnik is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

In spite of the universality and importance of alebrijes, Crafting Tradition is only the second book to focus on these strikingly original and colorful figures of animals, people, and fantastic imaginary creatures that grace the walls and counters of almost any sizable Mexican gift shop. Chibnik (Univ. of Iowa), a veteran economic anthropologist specializing in Oaxaca, presents a solid, detailed study of the economic and social side of this craft practiced in only four villages, all in central Oaxaca. Although this carving and painting draws on ancient local traditions, it is a new art; local people have been carving animals and alebrijes for less than 20 years. Chibnik traces the carvings, which developed in response to a market for high-quality craft and art items, from village workshops through Oaxaca's wholesale and retail markets to gift shops and museums in the US. Highly readable and accessible (unlike all too many economic and critical art tomes), the book is delightfully illustrated with good photographs of the carvings. It is also a sophisticated socioeconomic account of one of the most astonishingly successful and dynamic local initiatives in the developing world. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. For social scientists, art lovers, and, especially, anyone interested in local small enterprise development. E. N. Anderson University of California, Riverside


Choice Review

In spite of the universality and importance of alebrijes, Crafting Tradition is only the second book to focus on these strikingly original and colorful figures of animals, people, and fantastic imaginary creatures that grace the walls and counters of almost any sizable Mexican gift shop. Chibnik (Univ. of Iowa), a veteran economic anthropologist specializing in Oaxaca, presents a solid, detailed study of the economic and social side of this craft practiced in only four villages, all in central Oaxaca. Although this carving and painting draws on ancient local traditions, it is a new art; local people have been carving animals and alebrijes for less than 20 years. Chibnik traces the carvings, which developed in response to a market for high-quality craft and art items, from village workshops through Oaxaca's wholesale and retail markets to gift shops and museums in the US. Highly readable and accessible (unlike all too many economic and critical art tomes), the book is delightfully illustrated with good photographs of the carvings. It is also a sophisticated socioeconomic account of one of the most astonishingly successful and dynamic local initiatives in the developing world. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. For social scientists, art lovers, and, especially, anyone interested in local small enterprise development. E. N. Anderson University of California, Riverside


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Chapter 2 History of Oaxacan Wood Carving (1940-1985)p. 19
Chapter 3 Contemporary Wood Carvingp. 36
Chapter 4 Wood-Carving Communitiesp. 60
Chapter 5 Economic Strategiesp. 80
Chapter 6 Making Wood Carvingsp. 94
Chapter 7 Global Markets and Local Work Organizationp. 112
Chapter 8 Specializationsp. 124
Chapter 9 How Artisans Attain Successp. 147
Chapter 10 Popular Journalism, Artistic Styles, and Economic Successp. 174
Chapter 11 Sales in Oaxacap. 184
Chapter 12 Sales in the United Statesp. 206
Chapter 13 Conclusionp. 235
Epiloguep. 245
References Citedp. 249
Indexp. 259
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Chapter 2 History of Oaxacan Wood Carving (1940-1985)p. 19
Chapter 3 Contemporary Wood Carvingp. 36
Chapter 4 Wood-Carving Communitiesp. 60
Chapter 5 Economic Strategiesp. 80
Chapter 6 Making Wood Carvingsp. 94
Chapter 7 Global Markets and Local Work Organizationp. 112
Chapter 8 Specializationsp. 124
Chapter 9 How Artisans Attain Successp. 147
Chapter 10 Popular Journalism, Artistic Styles, and Economic Successp. 174
Chapter 11 Sales in Oaxacap. 184
Chapter 12 Sales in the United Statesp. 206
Chapter 13 Conclusionp. 235
Epiloguep. 245
References Citedp. 249
Indexp. 259