Galeria Atotonilco - open house

Saturday, Sunday, November 26, 27, Noon-5pm
Galeria Atotonilco, directions, 415-153-5365

Featuring Lacquer Gourds from Guerrero

The lacquer gourds and toys from the remote village of Tamalacatzingo, Guerrero are arguably the most beautiful lacquer produced anywhere in the world. They have been called the Faberge Eggs of Mexico. Galeria Atotonilco is featuring these spectacular works of art at their open house, Saturday and Sunday, November 26 and 27 from noon to 5 both days. The gallery’s 5,000 square feet of exhibition space also exhibits the most comprehensive collection of fine Mexican Folk Art in all of Mexico, including ceramics, paper mache, copper, textiles, antiques, and more.

Tamalacatzingo, Guerrero, is one of only five towns in all of Mexico that produce lacquer ware. Lacquer was being produced there for hundreds of years before the Spanish invasion, originally as both functional pieces and offerings to the gods.

About fifteen years ago, anthropologist Marta Turok spent time in the village persuading the artists to return to using traditional chia oil, and mineral earth powders and plants for color, ingredients that had been abandoned in favor of less expensive linseed oil and commercial dyes. Virtually all the artists now announce with pride that they have returned to the centuries-old natural materials. The result is an unctuous, translucent quality, and soft depth of color unobtainable with artificial chemicals.

About a forty-five-minute drive down the mountain from Tamalacatzingo is the town of Olinala, also a lacquer-producing town.

The rivalry between the two towns is evident in many comments and conversations in both towns. Both their history and their work are very different.

Both towns were originally Nahua indigenous peoples. The Spanish conquistadors invaded Olinala and intermingled with the Nahua people, so that the population today is largely Mestizo. Tamalacatzingo is so remote that the Spanish never found it, so the people today remain pure Nahua and speak Nahuatl (in addition to Spanish.)

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