Pasta Tiles Handmade in Mérida Yucatán México

Hand made pasta tiles with Allison Nevins of TexMex Fun Stuff.

Follow me to the most famous pasta tile factory in México. Mosaicos La Peninsular – Beautiful European imports which became a Yucatecan tradition. These hand made pasta tiles are now made in Mérida, Yucatán, México.

Pasta Tiles hand made at Mosaicos la Peninsular.
The Man, The Myth…Ignacio Durán. Owner and Boss Man of Tile! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Quick History of Mosaic Tiles or Spanish Tiles or “Pasta” Tiles in the Yucatan Peninsula:  These tiles were originally made in Barcelona, Spain and used by architects such as Antoni Gaudi as early as 1857.  We couldn’t find any mention as to if they were made exactly the same way there and then as they are here in Mérida today…But, today’s pasta tiles are essentially 3 levels of cement that have been turned into individual works of art! 

Long story short, as early as the 1600’s, the Spaniards realized that they wanted to bring back home all of the great shit that México has to offer…aka…chocolate, coffee, gold, silver and most importantly at the time…henequin.  We’ll cover henequin in another video/blog post. #promisespromises

Making Handmade Pasta Tiles (Mérida Yucatán México | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

So on their way to México (when they more or less owned it) the Spanish loaded their ships full of these pasta tiles as ballasts – literally to balance the otherwise empty boats to fill with New World treasures. They landed in the ports of Yúcatan, Campeche and Veracruz…then proceeded to dump all of the tiles out upon arrival. Then they filled the ships up with their Mexican treasures and back off to Spain they went.

Obviously, this left a lot of random tile laying around the peninsula, so people started collecting them and using them for flooring in their houses…and of course as sexy kitchen backsplashes and wall décor around their pools… Just Kidding. 

SO Many Decorative Uses! Gracias to Hotel Luz En Yucatan and El Palacito Secreto! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Essentially, these tiles started as free imports here.  But then about a 100 years ago, factories started popping up in the Yúcatan to make tiles to order for haciendas, businesses and regular casas alike.  The good homeowners and business property folks realized that these tiles are cost effective, easy to maintain, beautiful and durable all at once.  Plus, they really do stay cool and it gets hot as balls here. 

Then China came up with less expensive ceramic tiles and introduced them to México and the world market.  At that point the 7 or so factories in Mérida that had been producing these high quality tiles couldn’t compete and shut down.   All but one… Mosaicos La Peninsular. 

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

Ignacio and the gang endured the “ceramic tile storm” and thank God (!) because they alone kept this home decoration and flooring tradition alive. Plus, mosaic tiles last a minimum of 50 years and up to 100.  Ceramic tile lasts around 7-10 years. #worthityo

He was commissioned to design the flooring for the Famous El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya in Mérida. This is a sexy honor, but we can tell Ignacio is WAY prouder of being featured in the Tacombi Mexican Restaurant in the Empire State Building!

Ignacio simply BEAMS with pride when he talks about how his tile is in the Empire State Building! | Photo: La Magia de los Mosaicos Yucatecos

Ignacio says that he doesn’t let just anyone into the factory, but I batted my eyes like a gringa flirt and got my way! First stop on the tour is the cement separation station. These dudes are literally not wearing shoes and standing in a pit of thick sand. Then by hand, they shovel the material up and throw it through a sifter. This is an important step because they end up garnering two levels of cement that helps build the necessary layers of the tiles.

How to make pasta tiles.
Seeing Production!!!! Behind Door #1 is the separation of the cement. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

The particles that fall through the strainer are used for one level of tile and the thick stuff that doesn’t make it through gets used as the bottom of tile. NOW we take the separated material to the artists!

This guy below is called a Ladrillero – that’s Spanish for “Brick Maker”. The Ladrilleros start with a decorative mold and they mix very fine dry cement with color and fill in the little sections within the mold with a scooper thing.  Afterwards, they sprinkle fine dry cement on top.  THEN they fill in the rest of the space with a thicker, damp and chunky cement mixture…

After the Ladrillero cleans up the mold, he just sticks it in a hydraulic press and literally presses it for 5 seconds.  Ignacio is actually a mechanical engineer by trade, so I think that’s where the hydraulic press comes into play. This compression adds to the longterm durability of the tiles.

A Ladrillero doin’ his thang! First the paint mix, then the fine dry cement level and then the thicker base level. Press and be Impressed! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Anyhoo, the ladrillero removes the mold from the press, releases the ‘brick’ from the mold, flips it over and voila!  A 100% handmade piece of beauty is on the back side! Since all of this is done by hand, a ladrillero can make from 80-130 tiles per day.

Ignacio has a mold for every style: 1800-1900’s Hacienda Old World classics, Art Deco, Traditional Mayan embroidery looks, you name it.  As you can imagine, the more complicated a pattern and the number of colors per piece determine the length of time it takes to make each one, but after that process is complete…the tiles simply dry.  No baking of any kind.  They simply dry out for 8 days.

Molds for every style! Pic 2 is the warehouse where made to order tiles are drying out until they are ready to ship… | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

When the tiles are installed in their final resting place as flooring – a polisher shows up to buff and shine them with a polish.  This polishing brightens up the colors and the tiles really become their best selves. Smooth to the touch, shiny and slippery when wet…but excellent to dance on!

When our tour was over, Ignacio gave me a fabulous and unexpected gift…the literal book on the subject…’La Magia de los Mosaicos Yucatecos’. A real treat!

THE BOOK! Forgive the Starbucks…It WAS early on a Monday morning after all! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

For those of you who want to score this gem, it’s all in Spanish. The main gist is the history of bringing the tiles from Spain, the rise of factories like Ignacio’s in the early 1900’s and then their decline. It really drives home the value the tiles bring through design, durability, aesthetics, cost and ease of maintenance. I will have a discussion with Ignacio about making this book available to purchase! #promisespromises

IN THE MEANTIME…check out all of what Mosaicos La Peninsular has to offer on their English and Spanish website Mosaicos La Peninsular! Gracias and thanks for watching and reading and get ready for more to come!

Related Posts

Badass Chingonas of México Not Named Frida Kahlo

Amazing México Instagram Feeds You Should Follow

Ernesto de la Cruz…Is Coco’s Infamous Singing Superstar for Real?

What is the Deal With These Badass Mariachis?

La Lotería Ain’t Your Grandma’s Mexican Bingo.

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

Who Knew “God’s Eye” Was So Sexy? The Huichols Did, That’s Who!

Kids constructing the Huichol's ojo de Dios from popsicle sticks.

Y’all probably know that I am a big fan of Mexican Pueblos Magicos and of Papel Picado. The one town that puts these together well is Sayulita, Nayarit just north of Puerto Vallarta on México’s Pacific coast. In fact, Sayulita is most known for its rainbow rows of papel picado. So much so, that locals call the main avenue “Selfie Street” because so many touritsts ‘selfie’ themselves under the never ending rows of the colorful flags that line the main drag.

I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of why Sayulita digs papel picado as much as I do, but recently the town has taken on a new project that caught my eye…In addition to lining the streets with waves of papel picado they have added a massive amount of Ojos de Dios to color their sky! “WTF are Ojos de Dios?” you ask! Welllllllll…

Gracias and Thanks to Sayulita Luxury Transportation for this combo shot of papel picado and Ojos de Dios! This is “Selfie Street”

Once upon a time in a land far, far, OK fine, right up the street from us…Huichol Indians lived in peace and harmony. The Huichol (pronounced: hwee-chol) are a tribe of Native Mexicans that descended from the Aztecs in the western/central part of México. A small (20,000), but still strong tribe, the Huichol primarily hang out in the Sierra Madre mountains within the neighboring states of Jalisco (home to Puerto Vallarta) and Nayarit (home to Sayulita). Rumor has it they fled to the mountains to escape the Spanish Conquest carnage and some still live very isolated lives in the mountains of Zacatecas and Durango. #social distancing

🇲🇽 Shop for Papel Picado at TexMex Fun Stuff on Amazon 🇲🇽

Anyhoo, when the Spaniards came to conquer México’s land, indigenous folks and generally cause a big shit show, they couldn’t properly pronounce this tribe’s given name. Shocker. The tribe name was actually ‘Wixaritari’ which means ‘healer’ in their original language, sooooo they shortened it to Huichol. Not really Spanish, but a little easier to say.

Same street in Sayulita, just from a different view. #papelpicado #ojodedios | Photo: Sayulita Life

This tribe is known for 3 things: peyote, bead weaving and Ojos de Dios. Peyote sorta goes without saying….it’s basically trippy shit from a hallucinogenic cactus. The intricate bead work is a blog post for another time because it’s sexy as hell.

Ojos de Dios are decorations that hang from windows, trees and signs across México. They are commonly referred to as ‘Mexican Mandalas’ and are similar to Tibetan Mandalas because these colorful ‘sticks and yarn combos’ symbolize the Eye of God in both groups.

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

The Huichol believe that these more or less ‘religious instruments’ protect their young. In fact, it is tradition that when a baby is born, the father begins weaving the first layer of that child’s Eye of God by winding colorful yarn around a simple wooden cross to figuratively tie together all of the earth’s elements (land, air, fire, water) and directions (north, east, south, west) so that the newborn will be protected in all ways by all the Huichol gods. Got it? It’s a sweeter gesture than giving a baby a shitload of diapers at a baby shower…

Ojos de Dios can be made as simply as like when we had arts and crafts time with yarn and popsicle sticks! | Photo: Mandalas Web

Each year the father weaves an additional layer of the Eye/Ojo on the child’s birthday and provides the completed Eye/Ojo to the child upon their 5th birthday. This is a big time Rite of Passage for Huichol children. It basically means they are on their own…well, not that dramatic…but these dudes believe that after the age of 5, the child is no longer under the protection of the father, but of God(s).

This gang really embraces nature/earth/multiple gods and the like. And the number 5 holds a massive significance to them. For example: There are 5 points on their map, 5 colors of corn, 5 colors of peyote, 5 colors are used in each Eye/Ojo and there are 5 rain gods. Let’s face it, the Huichol really like the number 5! #cinco

Ojo de Dios hanging at the beach. | Photo: Mandalas Web

At the age of 5, the child throws his or her Eye of God into the sea as a sacrifice to the gods and as a “Gracias!” for their protection. This also signifies that the child is now old enough to protect him or herself. The age of 5 seems a bit young to “Let the damn kid roll on his own!”, BUT the Huichol usually marry between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, so there’s not a lot of time to be on their own anyway.

BTW, marriages are arranged by the parents when the children are very young. I’m guessing age 5? #damnthatsyoung

🇲🇽 Create Your Own Ojo de Dios With This 36 Pack Craft Kit 🇲🇽

The Ojo de Dios symbolizes the ability to see and understand unseen things, focusing their worship on nature and the earth.

Faith Lopez, Visual Arts & Ojo De Dios Mandala Workshops

As with all ceremonial items made by the Huichols, colors are important and each is identified with a particular god or sacred object. The original 5 colors in each Eye of God/Ojo de Dios are blue, black, white, red and purple…

Blue represents the sacred lagoon of Chapala and Rapawiyene, the god of rain and water. Maybe I should have had more respect for Rapawiyene when I danced like a crazy women on Lake Chapala in Jalisco. Ayayay. #notproud

Yep. Not proud. On the Malécon on Lake Chapala| Video: TexMex Fun Stuff

Black represents the Pacific ocean…which makes sense because Jalisco and Nayarit are both on the Pacific. It also represents Tatei Armana, the Mother of the Sea. And finally it represents (rather counterintuitively) life. Seems like a lot to represent, but hey. #dontjackwithblack

White represents the wind and clouds, but on the downside it can also be associated with death (again, super counterintuitive).

Red represents Parietekúa, which is the peyote god. I’ve never smoked peyote and that is probably one of my few good life decisions.

A “Mandala” version of an Ojo de Dios – set on a mountain to bless the people below. | Photo: Recognizing México

Purple is all encompassing and represents the Huichol as a society. Lots of Ojos de Dios have other colors obviously, but these 5 are of particular importance to the Huichol. Everything else is just pretty.

Tradition has evolved enough for this art form to become a money maker.💰💰 Huichols now make Ojo de Dios patterns into earrings, wall hangings and ornaments which are both pretty and thought to bring protection against evil, danger or disease. Hey, might as well make some cash as you spread color and joy. And there is A LOT of color and joy in Sayulita! 🌈 😁

One of the main streets in Sayulita, Nayarit – how cool is this?!?! | Photo: Casa Vecino Sayulita

According to a local Spanish newspaper, educational campuses, senior groups, independent artists, shops, and associations from Sayulita decided to showcase this marvelous art form all over the town in honor of the 9th Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration. All of these groups participated in setting up altars for Dia De Muertos and participated in the design, creation and placement of more than 16,000 “Eyes of God”. All of this was to get Ojo de Dios into the Guinness Book of World Record in late 2019! #failuretolaunch #yesImserious

Sweet ass night shot from the Dia de Los Muertos Festival in Sayulita | Photo: Mexico News On Line

I mean, seriously! There were 16,000 of them and they didn’t score?! #chinga #timeforresearch

So I went to the Guinness Book website to see if this had ever been attempted before and there is no record currently set. Based on the submission rules, it is probable (but not confirmed) that they submitted the paperwork too late to get in for the 2019 edition. Which is to say that if you submit paperwork “in time” the registration is free. I’m guessing they didn’t have enough funds for late submission. But still, all 16,000 were done by the hands of the Sayulitans – pretty impressive! #2020?

More OdD Beauties found in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Nevertheless, the good people of Sayulita gave it the old college try and will hopefully have the opportunity to try again during the upcoming Day of the Dead festivities. May 2020 be the year that Sayulita and Ojo de Dios go down in the record books! Because 2020 owes us something, goddamnit! #freaking2020

By the way, we don’t sell these, but here is the place you can score 1 or 16,000: Etsy

Are you looking for more inspiration from México? Check out the TexMex Fun Stuff Blog for more sights, sounds and badass-ness uncovered while exploring México searching for handmade fun stuff for you!

Related Posts

Amazing México Instagram Feeds You Should Follow

Ernesto de la Cruz…Is Coco’s Infamous Singing Superstar for Real?

What is the Deal With These Badass Mariachis?

La Lotería Ain’t Your Grandma’s Mexican Bingo.

Mexican Milagros – Because We Could All Use Some Miracles Right Now!

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

My Story / The Actual History of Papel Picado Flags

Papel picado punched paper in Tlaquepaque Jalisco with Allison Nevins.

So you’ve seen the movie “Coco” from Pixar, right? Aren’t the scenes of Miguel’s village and then the Xanadu afterlife city the most visually stunning destinations you have ever seen? Me too!

You may or may not have noticed that a majority of the color you see in every scene is due to the placement of those colorful banners that wave all over both magical places.

Miguel from Coco loves papel picado.
Miguel and Hector in Xanadu and then Miguel with the clan in Santa Cecilia, Mexico | Photo: Pixar

Welp, actually México is just like that. Color pouring from the sky everywhere.

Coco inspired punched paper.
Coco-themed banners adorning our favorite restaurant in Puebla! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

My hunt for these magical, colorful Papel Picado flags has taken me from enormous Mexican mercados to tiny little villages and what I’ve found is not only excellent products to export to the US and Europe, but also a tradition steeped in history and artistry, one precise hammer stroke at a time.

Here is the play by play of my quest for the birthplace of Papel Picado and the man with original birthrights to make it, otherwise known as the ‘Robin Hood’ of his town…

One year ago, I was in search of a pueblo called San Salvador Huixcolotla, which is known as the “Cradle of Punched Paper” and is the birthplace of Papel Picado flags. These colorful banners have been a part of every Mexican celebration for decades and are a symbol of México’s handmade craftsmanship at its finest.

Any birthday party, wedding or holiday gathering in México doesn’t get started until the Papel Picado is carefully strung from the rafters and roofs to welcome the party goers and to warn the neighbors that shit is about to get cray cray.

Papel picado punched paper in a cantina.
Traditional flags hanging from the ceiling of a cantina | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

My Story:

I found myself driving on a razor thin 2-lane road somewhere in the State of Puebla in Central México when I see in the distance a man standing in the middle of the broken pavement frantically waving a red bandana above his head. To my left was the majestic ice capped Orizaba Volcano, to my right were 3 dogs running beside my car and in front of me I had no idea, so I slowed.

The man strategically positioned in the middle of the road was actually directing traffic over a shitty one-lane bridge that I was about to cross. Evidently, when the state government of Puebla made this road they didn’t think it was important enough to spend the money on a two lane bridge. Why would they?

This bandana-waving fella’s job was to stop cars on one side of the bridge to allow cars coming from the other side to pass. I tipped him a few pesos for helping me avoid a head-on collision and was over the bridge and on my way to the worldwide mecca of Papel Picado. Yay!!

I had found the heartbeat of Papel Picado, now I was off to find Robin Hood.

Papel picado in a restaurant in Puebla city.
Typical flag placement in a restaurant celebrating Constitution Day in México | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

That sounded dramatic, right?! OK, truth be told, I already knew who he was. We had met several times at conventions in Guadalajara and now WhatsApp pretty frequently regarding my orders and re-orders, but I had no idea at this moment in time that my mind was about to get blown.

Stories sound better when there is more mysticism and general awe-factor, don’t you think? Anyhoo, we’ll just call our Robin Hood friend, “Max”.

Max insisted on meeting me at the outskirts of his village at a point immediately after the scary-ass mini-bridge so that I could follow him in his unnecessarily large truck to his “taller” (workshop). The whole point of following him versus just giving me directions or dropping a location pin (nope, Google Maps and Waze haven’t figured this area out yet) is because there are no street signs. At all. In the entire village.

We were too busy looking up to see street signs anyway! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Once I entered San Salvador Huixcolotla, it was clear that this was indeed the epicenter of these magical banners. Everywhere I turned, I was shaded by fluttering clouds of color.

Every street was magically draped with these intricate banners depicting all aspects of Mexican life ranging from Dia de Los Muertos to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Basically, like the Xanadu afterlife city in “Coco”.

Coco inspired pink papel picado.
Max’s brother showing off a papel picado placemat that someone had special ordered. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Actual History:

By the way, according to Wikipedia…The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Mexico officially recognizes and supports the art of Papel Picado. And in 1998, the governor of the state of Puebla decreed that the style of Papel Picado produced in San Salvador Huixcolota is part of the ‘Cultural Heritage of the State of Puebla’ (Patrimonio Cultural del Estado de Puebla). How ’bout that!?!

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

I followed Max in my Nissan Murano, which thank God has kick ass shocks, all the way to Max’s taller. His workshop is in the middle of town in a compound which includes his home (which he shares with his wife and son) and other buildings, bodegas and houses in which his brothers, cousins, nephews, nieces/employees also live and work. Chickens, dogs, kids and a cat run around this compound constantly.

I don’t know how any work gets done, but delicious chicken mole and beautiful Papel Picado are made here. If you ever get the chance to taste Max’s wife’s homemade mole – you should really go for it. I digress.

Papel picado Robin Hood of his town.
Max, himself. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

So anyway, Max is showing me around and introducing me to his family/employees and he casually mentions that his great-grandfather is the originator of Mexican Papel Picado. Max speaks no English and my Spanish is barely passable, but I got the jist…His great grandfather was Aztec and Spanish, but he learned this craft from a Chinese friend. Chinese invented super fine paper. They are especially known for creating “Chinese Paper” or as we call it in North America, tissue paper.

Allison Nevins learning the are of papel picado.
Max’s cousin and Me with a chisel…always a BAD idea. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Welp, Papel Picado is basically perforated tissue paper. The designs are commonly cut into colored tissue paper using a stencil or template and small mallets or chisels. Depending on the fold of the paper and the skill level of the chiseler, as many as fifty banners can be created at a time. Check out this video to see what I mean…

Evidently local hacienda owners would import this paper from China and sell it at their hacienda stores – this Chinese friend bought some and showed Max’s great granddad how the Chinese make cutouts and use the designed paper as flags to decorate homes or towns for parties and festivals.

Well great-grandad thought, “Mexicans love parties and festivals…this could work!”

🇲🇽 Shop for Papel Picado on Amazon 🇲🇽

As many traditions continue through generations of families, Max’s grandfather and father learned the trade and eventually Max was trained and inherited the family company. He employs all of his extended family and most of the town.

The bigger an order he receives, the more neighbors he contracts to get the job done. He says that in the 4th quarter of every year, the entire town is working for him in some capacity, hence the Robin Hood legacy. He is San Salvador Huixcolota’s biggest employer.

Papel picado tools used by the artist to make punched paper.
Max’s other brother demonstrating how he chooses which chisel to use for which shape he is cutting. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Every day, he and his brother drive the completed work of the day before into the city of Puebla to ship off the goods. One hour in each direction and 2 tips for the bandana bridge guy. Every day.

Allison Nevins shopping for the best papel picado in Mexico.
Future Best Sellers? | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Max tells me that tissue paper banners are the best sellers of his banner catalog, but plastic is growing in popularity as outdoor fiestas are quite popular too.

Shiny Mylar Day of the Dead Vertical Flags | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

A few years ago he also started using mylar for a foil-like effect for customers who wanted banners with shine. Obviously plastic and mylar are more durable than the delicate tissue paper counterparts, but Max’s fam prefers to work with the traditional paper. Old dogs, new tricks.

So after 3 hours of demonstrating, picture taking and mole eating it was time to get out of San Sal. I placed a huge order, paid Max in cash for the goods I was taking back to Puebla with me and hit the road. Following Max in his unnecessarily large truck of course, because when there are no street signs AND its dark, navigation gets tricky. Luckily, the bandana guy was still on the tiny bridge and he waved me back to town. That was worth the $3 USD tip!

Experience México every day with this Coco Inspired Papel Picado! Buy Yours Here.

Papel picado hand made in Mexico inspired by Coco the movie.

Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff Papel Picado Collection

Are you looking for more inspiration from México? Check out the TexMex Fun Stuff Blog for more sights, sounds and badass-ness uncovered while exploring México searching for handmade fun stuff for you!

Related Posts

5 Fun Historical Stories About Piñatas

My Lucha Libre Experience – Laughing, Crying and Screaming

Funny S#*t You See In México

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

5 Fun Historical Stories About Piñatas!

Paper-mache hand-made bull pinata and a mexican sombrero.

Piñatas have a rich history in México and are typically considered by “gringos” as fixtures of Cinco de Mayo and Mexican-themed birthday parties. You know the parties…where blindfolded kids swing a stick or a bat at a hanging piñata while the drunk uncle pulls the rope?! Everyone has that “Tio CrayCray” who makes the piñata wildly swing up-and-down, making the kids swing and miss as the crowd laughs and spills their boozy treats.

Me playing the part of the ‘Drunk Uncle’ | Photo: Armando HDZ Fotografia

I fully support this kind of party and drunk uncles, but there’s a lot more that goes into the history and artistry of piñatas than that.

Here are 5 things that I’ve learned and love about piñatas while traveling through México in search of the artists behind these works of art:

1. Piñatas were not born in Mexico-“No nacieron en México!”

A very sad bull learning at this very moment that he was in fact NOT born in México. Pobrecito.

Piñatas were originally created out of paper-mâché, pottery or cloth in China for the New Year. They were shaped like bulls or ox, decorated with colors representing the 4 seasons and filled with seeds. Then farmers would whack the crap out of said colorful container on NYE, busting the seeds all over for favorable growing seasons in the New Year.

The remnants of the battered piñatas were gathered and burned and the ashes were collected and kept for good luck throughout the year.

2. Marco Polo introduced piñatas to Italy – “¿Mande?”

Chinese animal pinatas made of paper mache in a market.
Donkey piñatas givin’ the “crazy eye”

It is believed that when Marco Polo (yes, THE Marco Polo) visited China in the 13th century, he saw the colorful clay pots wrapped in paper with figures of Chinese bulls and other animals filled with seeds and liked the idea of it all. Our hombre, Marco then brought these containers of seeds and goodness to Italy, where they were named ‘pignattas’ or “cooking pots”.

The Spaniards (being big ol’ copy cats) took the tradition for themselves in a religious capacity by adding piñatas as a new Christian tradition during the season of Lent. Then they crossed the big blue sea to Mexico where they forced a whole array of traditions like piñatas upon the indigenous folks.

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

In Central Mexico where the Aztecs lived and had a strangely similar piñata situation of their own, piñata-making really took hold as an art and a way to making a creative living. Pueblo Acolman is a town in the northern part of Mexico State that claims to be the origin or the “cradle” of piñatas as they have been a tradition there for over 420 years.

Both kinds of piñatas, those made with clay pots and those made entirely of paper are still made there. The pueblo of Acolman also claims to be the origin of the Las Posadas tradition in Mexico…we’ll get to that another time.

3. The Traditional Mexican Piñata Represents the “Struggle with Temptation” = “Ayayay Pecados!”

7 Sins, 7 Points. Get it? Count ’em: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride – Tempted? Yo tambien!

So one of the changes the Spanish made to incorporate piñatas into their season of Lent was to shape them like stars instead of livestock. Stars represent many things in the bible, but the Spanish specifically made their star piñatas with seven points to represent the 7 Deadly Sins.

The severe beating of one of these star shaped thingydoodles is the literal “Struggle with Temptation”. Or as I like to call it, a typical Saturday night. The blindfolded participant who attempts to beat the piñata represents “Faith” (because faith is blind). The piñata represents Evil or “Satan” who wears beautiful, bright colors to lure unsuspecting (and otherwise non-sinners) to touch said temptations.

If the God-fearing people touch the piñata, then they have fallen into temptation. It’s that easy – just ask Eve or my Mom. My Mom is a minister. Different blog post entirely.

In Mexico, traditional seven point piñatas are typically beaten to oblivion night after night (a new one each night, of course) during the 9 day period leading up to Christmas, which is better known as Las Posadas. Don’t worry, they get beaten after Christmas too. And especially on New Years Eve. In fact, all the way up to January 6th for Three Kings Day (aka Epiphany). Again, a whole other post…One my mom will let me tell!

4. Millennials and Hipsters Have Fallen in Love with Piñatas!  “Si, claro!”

The Happy Couple: Eduardo and Julie Sobrino, Merida YUC | Photo: Armando HDZ Fotografia

In the past 3 years, piñatas have officially gone main-stream with millennials all over the world at weddings, baby showers, cantina crawls, birthdays and bachelorette parties. God bless the youngsters.

Now that piñatas don’t have to represent farmers’ wishes for good crops or Christians’ wishes to battle their demons, we can have a lot more fun with them. Hence the new variety of piñata shapes and occasions to fill, beat, enjoy, repeat. How many politicians, Marvel comics and Disney characters as piñatas have you seen on Amazon lately…#amIright?!

Take this hipster-ific couple in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (above) who had piñatas crafted to resemble each other for their rehearsal dinner. The highlight of the evening for us friends and family was watching them beat the shit out of each other’s piñata. Then the ring bearer and flower girls attacked the candy and everyone won! Because that’s love. “Eso el amor!” We cheered on the destruction and forgot the entire point of the wedding.

5. Mexican Piñatas are Still Handmade  – “Probablemente no en China…”

Hand-made star pinata held by the artist.
Piñata Artist showcasing his XXL craft in Puebla Mexico. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Tassels aren’t just for strippers. You heard it here first.

Whether a piñata is made from the early traditional paper mâché variety or from tissue paper, cardboard and tassels, they are never machine-made. Piñata making is an art form in México where entire villages are trained to craft all kinds of shapes, sizes and styles to meet every celebratory need.

Mad at Trump? Someone can make you a Trump piñata! Divorce party? An ex-spouse look-alike can be made by hand! Usually though, they are shaped like animals for kids’ birthday parties or the 7 pointed stars to cover the whole holiday season. Either way, they are made BY HAND by real artistic humans who take this art very seriously…so don’t piss them off. Just kidding. But seriously, don’t.

Experience México everyday with this handmade, super tassel-y star piñata!

Colorful Fun Fiesta Party Piñata

TexMex Fun Stuff™ Star Piñata ranked in ‘The Best 10 Piñatas’ by our amigos at Wiki.ezvid.com

Are you throwing a Mexican fiesta? Don’t miss out on our collection of papel picado. Coco inspired, Lucha Libre and Day of the Dead papel picado banners are big strands of fun!!

Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff Papel Picado Collection

Are you looking for more inspiration from México? Check out the TexMex Fun Stuff Blog for more sights, sounds and badass-ness uncovered while exploring México searching for handmade fun stuff for you!

Related Posts

5 Fun Historical Stories About Piñatas

Funny S#*t You See In Mexico

My Lucha Libre Experience – Laughing, Crying and Screaming

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

S#*t You See in México

A guy and his dog riding a scooter in Roma Norte, Mexico City.

So I have been buying and selling fun stuff in/from México for years. I have seen a lot of this country looking for treasures that I think others will enjoy owning.

Along the way I have been entertained by sights and sounds from almost daily parades to almost nightly celebrations and my husband, Todd said that I should really be documenting this for my friends, fans and customers.

Basically, he forced me to start a blog. This is said blog. I hope it doesn’t suck. The plan is to show you all the funny shit I see and maybe educate a little in the quest to entertain a lot. Let’s start slow with a few pix of shit that have made me laugh pretty hard. We’ll get all educationally later.

Seriously, only in this freakin’ country can you get glimpses of this kind of greatness….

Merida, Yucatan
A Bride Climbing a Bar to get the Good Rum! | Photo: Del Angel Photography
Tequila, Jalisco.
There are 6 dudes up there “May poling”. This deserves its own blog post. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
México City, State of México
Some awesomeness doesn’t even require a caption. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Awesome taco joint …#Goes without saying. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Mexico City
Grease is the Word. Or Vaselina, either way. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Cabo San Lucas, Baja California
Beach vendor selling Lucha Libre masks. Because that’s what sun bathers want more than anything at the beach.

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽

Merida, Yucatan
“It’s all ball bearings these days!” Fixing a bus engine sucks, especially in sandals and traffic. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Oooh damn! That’s a lotta Jesus! Everything your nativity scene needed then, NOW ON SALE post-Christmas in El Mercado. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Oaxaca, Oaxaca
“Dock that Oaxacan a day’s pay for nappin’ on the job!” | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Teeny tiny town outside of Oaxaca, Oaxaca
A bull and cow parade. Because it’s Tuesday, that’s why! | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Hacienda Santa Rosa, Yucatan
Yep, those are real. Most folks can only afford to bury their loved ones in a grave for 1 year, then they give up the space for someone else’s body. The bones of the recently removed get put into boxes for a more “economical” afterlife. |
Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff
Merida, Yucatan
They’ll let any gringo bozo into a bar. | Photo: TexMex Fun Stuff

Well that’s all for now. There will probably be a sequel of funny shit I see in Mexico, in fact it’s inevitable. But for now, it’s time to work!

Are you looking for more inspiration from México? Check out the TexMex Fun Stuff Blog for more sights, sounds and badass-ness uncovered while exploring México searching for handmade fun stuff for you!

Related Posts

5 Fun Historical Stories About Piñatas

My Story / The Actual History of Papel Picado Flags

My Lucha Libre Experience – Laughing, Crying and Screaming

🇲🇽 Shop the TexMex Fun Stuff online storefront on Amazon!  🇲🇽