News

April 17, 2017

The Nahual Enigma

 Countercultural Shamanic Spiritual Transformation of the 1970's

Many native Mexican folktale recount the antics of the Nahual, a strange shamanic sorcerer-type witch residing at the fringes of village life who prefer to operate where there are few to witness their craft. These beings have the ability to morph into animals and travel into the spiritual realm. Sometimes called naguals this name variation denotes a divine animal spirit within the individual. Divinity is usually depicted with feathered wings. 

Avatar Animal Spirits Oaxaca

First recorded by Friars and Priests living in Mexico in the 17th century they were described as having the ability to change their shape to dogs, owls, armadillos, cows, chickens and most impressively jaguars.

 Near the Farm the Oaxacan Animals Change Shape

Toltec in origin these beings still exist today creating mischief to some and acting as guardians on others. Both feared and respected, it is said their ability to transform is directly related to the animal represented on it’s birth day. This spirit companion transformer has been adopted into movies like Ron Howard’s Willow, rock group Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Hearts’ music video, and even Power Rangers.  In ancient Persia and in mentioned in the Koran the Djinn were also able to shape shift. Comparisons can also be made to the wolf man of Europe.

 Djinn Devil Shell Werewolf of Europe

In Oaxaca, the mestizo (Europe and American Indian) populations consider nahuals to have malevolent intentions while the Zapotecs and Mixes revere them as protectors of the people. The character of Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda books was a type of shamanic practitioner nahuatl descendant who encouraged the main character to identify with animals and learn from their spiritual teachings.

Carlos Castaneda Crow Wings Spirit Shaman

The three villages of Arrazola, San Martin, and La Union celebrate the subject of the nahual in many of their artisan works. Fanciful tales of stones transforming into people for the purpose of dancing and then shape shift into chickens.  Music played for festival celebrations often depict people playing a musical instruments with such fervor that they morph into animals is a reoccurring theme. 

Animal Festival Parade Oaxaca Mexico

Now relegated to simple trickery in order to get a free meal. The late Manuel Jimenez claims to have been challenged to strange contests of skill by several witches. It is often thought that the nahuals change their shape to farm animals in order to get a free meal. Woodcarvings of burros or cows are based around that folktale. As a rule of thumb nahuals usually have beards and blue eyes.   Qualities that were very rare with those sharing Meso American ancestry.  

Blue Eyed Grasshopper Man

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March 10, 2017

Edilberto Felipe & Mauricio Masters of Copal

The year opens with the arrivals of pieces by Edilberto Cortez and the artist team of Felipe and Mauricio Ramirez.  When we first discovered these artists back in the early 1990s, we were amazed at their distinctive qualities that sets their work apart in the highly competitive Oaxacan village of Arrazola.

Edilberto Cortez Oaxacan Master Artist in Copal and Acrylic

The eyes will immediately capture your attention when admiring a Oaxacan woodcarving and this is the magic in Edilberto's art. He has a unique way of creating 3D chiseled eyes on all of his works. 

Anteater Arrazola Edilberto Cortez Oaxaca Wood Carving Largest

Starting with his Egyptian cats and working their way across his zoomorphic portfolio are animal eyes interrelated by the characteristic raised eye shapes.  Snail Caracole Land Sea Arrazola Acrylic Copal WoodWhile other artists mimic Zapotec and Navaho patterns Cortez invents his own geometrical spaces and rules of color.  An anteater will always portray the characteristics of an anteater while a snail will always have a lucid patchwork of prismatic positioning. 

Kangaroo Stylistic Face Off Pouches Copal Wood Oaxaca Mexico

At the realistic end is his fur pattern painting style and splotchy patch method is entirely unique to him.  Another feather in Edilberto's hat is the ability to evolve new styles while embracing his original hallmark designs.

Felipe Ramirez Premiere Iguana Fire Lizard Artist Oaxacan Copal Wood Carving

Felipe and Mauricio Ramirez are the defacto Arrazola lizard painters.  Over the years many artists have borrowed from their flaming multi-color camouflage with boundless color combinations. 

Superlative Looping Lizard Felipe Ramirez Oaxacan Copal Woodcarving Arrazola

They are masters of mixing colors as they can make so many different hues work.  The term 'no two are alike'  quickly comes to mind when viewing the Ramirez brothers vast array of surreal swirling patterns and the contouring of multi-loop tailed lizards. 

Neon Nuclear Lemon Lizard Oaxaca Mexico Mauricio Ramirez

You could collect a hundred iguanas and two would never be alike.  Their custom color palette has a higher degree of depth also sets them apart from other artists.  In fact, colors that have only existed in Oaxacan pieces are ones Mauricio mixed himself. 

Pine Green Mountain Lizard Mexico Oaxaca Felipe Ramirez

Their pieces are often the only thing collectors collect forgoing the many other genres of village styles. Yes, 2017 has a magical start with these fantastic works new in the gallery.

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February 08, 2017

Valentine Cherubs and a Dozen Chocolates

To celebrate our new shipment of cinnamon Oaxacabar chocolates we are giving twelve of them for any Milagros Cherub purchase.  These hand carved & painted wooden Angels are made to hang on walls and above doorways.  Buy any of our color variations by February 14th and we will send your order 2-3 Day Priority Mail with a dozen chocolate bars included. 

Click Here to See our Selection of Milagros Cherubs...

Valentine Cherub 2107

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January 22, 2017

Oaxacan Woodcarving: Historical Review

In 2017, our gallery hits the age of 21.  The extent of artists and their works we've encountered reaches back into the early 1970s.  In our own unconventional Port Wahakaa fashion we've illustrated the benchmarks as waves of creativity and invention.   See it Here...

Snail Cat with whiskers and turtle riding on shell

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December 14, 2016

Oaxacan Hot Chocolate Frothy Style

Easy Recipe to Make Oaxacan Hot Chocolate

Those first cold days of the year and we all cherish a hot beverage to sip while relaxing.  Our Oaxacan bars of chocolate are the ideal components of an amazing cup of frothy cacao plain and simple.  While other recipes utilize the baking chocolate discs our uniquely formulated Oaxacabars take all the alchemical guess work out of creating a fast authentic beverage in under 5 minutes.  Let us share with you our favorite hot beverage bar none over the years.

Step 1 - Grate 2 Oaxacabars:

Start by grating 2 bars (approx. 10 grams) for every cup (9 oz) of hot chocolate. To grate the bars we recommend a microplane grater but any kind of grater will do.  The idea is to get the chocolate into a fluffy powder.

Step 2 - Heat milk or water until just below boiling:

In Oaxaca, hot chocolate is usually made with water. For a thicker more profound taste try whole milk.  Heat the milk or water in a saucepan until it's nearly ready to boil.  But do not let it boil!

Step 3 - Gently mix in grated chocolate:

Now add in the grated chocolate. Mix continuously with the whisk to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the bottom. Do this for about 2 minutes.

Step 4 - Pour chocolate mixture into cup:

Oaxacan chocolate is served frothy, the result of brisk whisk action will give it a thick head of foam on top.  Your friends and associates will tell you this is the best hot chocolate they've ever had.  Don't let this go to your head.  Remain humble and enjoy a lifetime of great hot chocolate.

Checkout our newest shipment of Oaxacan chocolate bars in several quantities:

https://oaxacanwoodcarving.com/collections/oaxacabars-chocolate-from-where-chocolate-began

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October 12, 2016

Stroll through San Martin

One of the most expansive of all the carving villages and arguably the oldest.  They say it was San Martin that supplied the corn to the builders of Monte Alban.   Visit at high noon and you will be able to spread out your walking legs as many will be indoors due to the suns intensity.

San Martin Tilcajeta at noon on main street

 

An agricultural base that either gets too much water or too little.  These days people are more conscientious about how the water is managed.

Water Belongs to Everyone in San Martin Tilcajete

 

Bougainvilleas line a maze work of streets and small bridges.  Many people tend their own gardens.  The heat is intense at mid day keeping most folks indoors.

Banana Bridge Garden San Martin Tilcajete

 

From time to time you will see the workshop tiendas open for business with a lizard or painted cactus adorning the entrance to metal doors and brightly painted walls with murals.  Or not entirely finished buildings of concrete with temporary doors.

Oaxacan Metal Doors Lizard Wall

 

While many of the artists are friendly the one of the most amicable and personable is Innocencio Vasquez.  His festival diablos positioned in chairs and nahuals have been his mainstay for several decades.  To him they are depictions of real supernatural creatures seen infrequently.  He’s a wealth of information on these subjects of shape changers. His pieces tell a story part about the invisible world around us.

Innocencio holding one of his Diablos

 

 

nocencio Vasquez is the inventor of the enormously popular little red devils in bars

As we mentioned before San Martin has no shortage of perros and as you roam about town you will surely walk into their turf. Here is a puppy we encountered that just wanted to say hello.

Oaxacan Puppy on Dirt Road

 

From time to time you will see the workshop tiendas open for business with a lizard or painted cactus adorning the entrance to metal doors and brightly painted walls with murals.  Or not entirely finished buildings of concrete with temporary doors.

 

Brick Concrete Block Store San Martin Under Construction

Two of the greatest painters Roberta Angeles (Left) and Maria Jimenez (Right) are the masters of the floral patterns.  While they like to tout their larger works it’s actually the smaller pieces that show off their uniquely individual pattern woven styles.  These two have inspired three generations of Oaxacan carving artists working around them.

Roberta Angeles and Maria Jimenez Ojeda in their Studios

 

Back in 2004 we were lucky to run into Isidoro Cruz who was very engaging at the time, full of humor and spirit.  He is one of the very last to use the aniline dyes which were the predecessor of Acrylic painted works.  His stories of witches, nahuals, devils, and angels seen in the area over the years is expansive. He’s a legend of his village on par with Manuel Jimenez of Arrazola and Gabino Reyes of La Union.

Isidoro Cruz holding his mask in San Martin

 

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September 21, 2016

Deep Deep Chocolate

Deep Deep Chocolate

Today!  What a delight when a new batch of Oaxacabars arrive at Port Wahakaa.  This time of year the Oaxacan chocolates are intensely potent with a deep dark intensity.  Two bars would satiate any chocolate lovers for real chocolate.  Great for Gifts!  Nothing beats real Cacao (Milk Free) Chocolate!

25 Chocolates are 11.25  Quarter Sheet
50 Chocolates are 22.00  Half Sheet
100 Chocolate are 30.00  Full Sheet

 

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September 07, 2016

Protests in Oaxaca make it difficult for the Artists

Oaxaca Street Protest Closed Teacher

While the Teachers close down many roads and make their tent city base camp in Oaxaca’s Zocalo it is the artisans that are often the ones stuck in the middle of it all.  Unable to get their wares to market and if they can the tourists are not there.

Burning Oaxaca Zocalo Fire

Some time around 2006 the Oaxaca National Coordinator of Education Workers or the 'Teachers' started coordinating large strikes and in recently have made permanent blockades of roads shutting down all kinds of commerce.  While their motives and struggle are apparent it’s the citizens who depend on tourism to sell their crafts are having an incredibly difficult time making ends meet as the protests go on year after year.

Navigating the city center is like moving around under tarps and shops that have gone out of business.  Trip Advisor has many comments regarding this on their site about the Zocalo being gloomy and intimidating.  U.S Department of State has updated their Mexico Travel Warning in January 2016 stating that foreigners are routinely held up at knifepoint and robbed in many areas of Oaxaca.  But does that stop us from getting collectors the best Oaxacan woodcarvings we can obtain at the same prices they were in 1998?  Most certainly not.  We blend in by dressing badly and walking quickly with purpose.  The people of Oaxaca are resilient and have a sense of polite stoicism.  Unfortunately, the protests have brought in many out of state elements that debase the essence of kindness and courtesy. 

Before 2006 the Zocalo resembled

Zocalo Oaxaca Before Teacher Protests

And these days resembles this

Tent Teacher Protest Zocalo Oaxaca

After ten years of dealing with these issues we thought it was time to let our collectors know the chaos that has made bringing Oaxacan Art to our gallery all the more difficult.  Shipments get delayed for months and some carving villages like La Union are on roads that are often times closed due to protests.  This has often times led to scarcity in the last two years.  Still we have an amazing selection of works to chose from and continue to make the effort to logistically get pieces no matter how many times we may fall on our faces.

The LA times did a great article on this years Guelaguetza being mostly a bust for indigenous artisans who rely on the festival to sell their wares.  This article from September 6 2016 indicates the protests are intensifying with no end in sight

While we have always strictly focused on the Oaxacan woodcarving artists we feel it is time to mention that their world around them is seeing hard times.  Makes you appreciate more than ever the work they do.

 

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August 03, 2016

See the Sea Splendor

Pacifica Copal Creations

New pieces arrived this week from Arrazola.  Amongst the splendid sea creatures are some impressive antelopes, jaguars, rams, and bulls.  These will be highly appealing for the collectors who love the finely detailed fitting in the palm of the hand works. 

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July 18, 2016

Behemoth Beach Walkers

Juming Jaibas Crab Walkers Ghost

This summer walking in the from the sandy shoals are some of the largest most colorful crabs we've seen in over two decades.  These towering alien looking jaibas of impressive stature comb the beach looking to socialize with other colorful decapods.  Very intricate and a very sublime addition to a collection.

 

 

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Dark chocolate good for the mind and body

March 29, 2016

Dark chocolate good for the mind and body

Dark Chocolate Brain Booster

Eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills, a University of
Nottingham expert has found.  A study led by Professor Ian Macdonald found that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in
flavanols  a key ingredient of dark chocolate  boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours.

Increased blood flow to these areas of the brain may help to increase performance in specific tasks and boost general
alertness over a short period.The findings, unveiled at one of the biggest scientific conferences in America, also raise the
prospect of ingredients in chocolate being used to treat vascular impairment, including dementia and strokes, and thus for
maintaining cardiovascular health.

The study also suggests that the cocoa flavanols found in chocolate could be useful in enhancing brain function for people
fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation, and even the effects of ageing.

 

Our fresh micro batches of Oaxacan chocolate arrive every few weeks. 

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March 27, 2016

400 Aztec Rabbits

Port Wahakaa Oaxacan Rabbit Conejo Moon

The artists of Oaxaca are deep rooted in Aztec mythology from the Popol Vuh .  Every animal usually has a number of folk tales surrounding it's origins and clues to their perceived personality.  For the western world Easter has some puzzling pagan ear markings (pun intended) of rabbits hiding brightly decorated Easter eggs.

In Aztec Mythology, the goddess Mayahuel rules both fertility and the maguey or agave plant. Along with the god Patecatl, she protects the maguey and its fermented sap, or pulque. One night, in a fit of passion, Patecatl and Mayahuel consummated their relationship and Mayahuel found herself pregnant.

Mayahuel Moon Goddess

She gave birth to the Centzon Totochtin or 400 Rabbits, who were nurtured on pulque from her many breasts, and grew into the Gods of Drunkenness. These divine rabbits travel through the land, frequent parties and gatherings and deliver the gift of drunkenness to the people, with each Rabbit representing the different ways in which a person can experience intoxication.

Our Gallery has an amazing assortment of Rabbits (Conejos) simply do a search for the word:  Rabbit

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March 22, 2016

Fresh Chocolate Arrives

Today's fresh shipment of Oaxacabars were so incredibly fresh we could smell the chocolate through the box.  Upon Sampling we were amazed at the powerful cinnamon that creeps up on you after that initial darkest of dark chocolate bite.  These milk free bars are nothing but the pure power of chocolate cacao and immediately melt in your mouth.  

Incredibly fair priced for chocolate of this high tier quality.  Our chocolate comes from the same region the original purveyors of cacao 'the Aztecs' got theirs.  Sourced from the southern rain forests of Oaxaca and the Chiapas.

Order some chocolate bars while they last..Click Here..

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March 20, 2016

Virtual Tour of Arrazola

Tour Virtual Arrazola Oaxaca Port Wahakaa

See the sights of the village situated beneath the ancient city of Monte Alban.  A vivid tour of color along cobble stone streets and dust swept roads.  Visit the artists on main street and the outer perimeter. 

Take A Tour Here

 

 

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March 20, 2016

Cacti in Bloom

Many new arrivals indicate spring is being celebrated in Sierra Del Sur Oaxaca.  Impressive flowering cacti, insects, and desert dwellers such as chameleons, armadillos, and roadrunner.

Our new website has a rewards system.  Just by making an account (see green tab) you instantly earn points.  Add your email to our list and you get an instant 10% discount.  These are discounts on top of our incredibly fair prices that have pretty much stayed the same since the late 1990's (twentieth century).  Lots of choices now with hundreds of amazing works to see.

 Sign Up - Black Tab - Add your email and instantly get a 10% coupon sent to your inbox

Earn Rewards- Green Tab - Points toward future discounts by following us in Twitter, making account, and get points for every purchase (5 points per dollar).

Our McAfee Secure we pay dearly for ensures:

No malware

No Phishing

and Valid SSL Certificate

So make an account and join our email list.  Support artists families and indigenous chocolate producers in the Oaxaca region and their practiced traditions. Celebrate original art that inspires all kinds of creativity in all social strata the world over.   Own  original artwork, taste chocolate in the pure form. Live the Renaissance lifestyle starting today.

 

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March 20, 2016

2016 Year of the Monkey

We move into our 20th year of existence in the year of the Monkey.  A mythic,  symbolic and cosmological animal that is celebrated in the widest range of artist styles in Oaxacan Woodcarving.  To see the par excellence pieces we have in the gallery simply type the word "monkey" in the search at the top left to see them.

 

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Amor Valentine & 12 Chocolates

March 20, 2016

Amor Valentine & 12 Chocolates

Valentine Amor Milagros and Chocolate

We received a small assortment of Milagros winged Cherubs for Valentines 2016.  These are painted in the theme of the Valentine Holiday.  For only $19 you get twelve Oaxacabar Chocolates with each Amor Valentine Cherub purchase!  Show those you love your appreciation for hand painted art and the highest grade Cacao chocolates from Oaxaca.

 

Order Here

 

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