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Hunter Gatherer

Vintage Mexican Folk Art Bark Painting

Vintage Mexican Folk Art Bark Painting

Amate bark painting is a very old Mexican tradition that focuses on the painting of paper made from tree bark. Outside of the reaches of European influence, there hadn't been an introduction to traditional paper. Instead, pictures and symbols were painted with their own interpretation.

The art of amate bark painting dates back to the ancient civilizations of the Maya and Nahua people. They each had their own traditions and ways of communicating with the amate bark paintings. The name for the bark paper, in the Nahuatl language, was amatl. The term amatl is where the name amate paper originates from.

After the Spanish arrived in Mexico and conquered such civilizations as the Mayans and Aztecs, many traditions were destroyed. Paper from Europe took the place of amatl/hunn throughout almost the entire territory. Only some small remote villages were able to hold onto the tradition of amate paper. The Otomi people lived in what is now the Mexican state of Puebla and they lived in remote areas that were not as severely impacted by the Spanish colonists. For centuries Mexican bark painting was a tradition that the Otomi kept alive as part of important ceremonies and traditions.

Until about the middle of the 20th century, the 1970s, the art of amate paper was nearly completely stifled and forgotten. After the Mexican revolution, ending in 1920, old traditions and artforms started to be rediscovered. Folk artists and collectors started to bring life back into the bark art from Puebla. Artists and dealers worked together to bring the tradition back to not only the region but also to the world. Guerrero has now overtaken Puebla as the Mexican state that produces and paints amate paper. In the state of Guerrero, there are the regions of Xalitla and Maxela where the majority of the painting is executed.

This particular painting was made by Ognacio Ortiz Roman.
Regular price $145.00
Regular price Sale price $145.00
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