These two colorful neon paintings of birds came together in a quite old and shabby and broken frame, which I pulled apart to salvage the art. Painted on amate, which comes from the Nahuatl word for "paper" (amatl), these paintings carry on a tradition dating back to the Mesoamerican cultures of the Mayas and Aztecs. The Mayas called the paper hunn (bark) and the Aztecs gave it the name amatl. Both cultures used it to document their codices, and they used it for shrines and burials. When the Spaniards arrived, the amate crafting stopped everywhere except in an Otomi village located in Puebla State. People from San Pablito Pahuatlan continued the crafting of amate paper for ceremonial uses like agricultural rituals. The paper is made from the bark of the wild fig tree. Painting on the paper as a means of folk art started in the 1960s, and came from indigenous artist Pedro de Jesus, who'd been invited to paint on the patio of a Mexican art dealer. De Jesus had been painting wood figurines but then suggested painting on the bark paper, and by the 1970s, de Jesus and another indigenous artist, Cristino Flores, had won national recognition for this work. The paintings here are very traditional, and based on the frame in which I found them, were likely from that 1970s decade when fame of this style of painting really was at its height. Both depict birds and flowers--common themes in amate art.
The thin "canvases" measure just under 7-1/2" wide by 10-3/4" tall. One has a small tear at the top (see Photo 6). One is more vibrant than the other, and that may have been do to fading, the way the sun hit on the pieces, which were hung together in a single frame. These will need to be framed by the new owner. I will ship them in stiff cardboard to make sure they are not bent during shipment.
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