by Ángel Patron Ventura
Ht. 9" x W. 19" x D.8"
Near the ancient lacquer-producing village of Tamalacatzingo is a town equally famous for its lacquer artists. Both towns were originally Nahua indigenous peoples. The Spanish conquistadors invaded Olinalá and intermingled with the Nahua people, so that the population today is largely Mestizo. No one knows exactly when, but at some point, people from Olinalá went up the mountain to learn lacquer techniques from the Tamalacatzingo people.
Today, both towns produce lacquer ware, but the “look” from each town is quite different. Olinalá is known for spectacular boxes, trunks, and trays. The finest work from the town is intricate and beautiful containing figures, flowers, animals, and sometimes stories, like the story of creation, or a traditional myth.
Two techniques are widely used in Olinalá. The artists apply a layer of lacquer in one color, let it dry, and then apply a second coat over it in a different color. They then carefully carve through the first layer in decorative motifs to expose the color below. This technique is called vaciado. They also use a technique called puntiado, in which they fill the negative space with small dots.