Mexican Tree of Life

What is it?

It is a clay craftsmanship full of colors and many shapes and meanings. On one side of the craftsmanship we can find many folk elements of Mexican culture and on the other side there are religious elements.

Tree of life craft

Origin of "Tree of Life".

This craftsmanship was first an instrument of evangelization, and was created by Ottoman potters who inhabited the State of Mexico.However, it was until colonial times that mud began to be used to transmit the teachings of the Bible to indigenous peoples.The tree of life was an attempt to teach the inhabitants of Anahuac the creation of the world according to the Catholic faith.

Mexican tree of life

That´s why we can usually find in the center of the tree a figure of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.After the military conquest, one of the greatest challenges of the Spaniards in Mexico was spiritual conquest, and one of the most effective mechanisms invented by missionaries was “to make Christian versions of different discourses already existing in Pre-Hispanic Mexico”.

Later in the Viceroyalty, the artisans were adding biblical elements such as angels, and virgins, saints etc. To his works. However, during the 19th century, during the times of war and political chaos in Mexico, potters began to recover ancient pre-Hispanic elements and scenes from everyday life.

During the same time, the tree of life became a work dedicated to the Catholic faith and with all the commitment they put to the works, it was possible that Metepec obtained fame and even was declared a magical people.

After this, the Tree of Life began to be used for domestic and decorative use, being ordered from artisans “on request” being in the future, one of the main sources of income for the inhabitants of Metepec.

Meaning of the tree of life.

The tree of life represents the creation of the world according to Catholic beliefs, previously God was at the top of the tree, there were fruits and branches that symbolized the 7 days of creation, with Adam and Eve at the roots of the tree, stalked by the serpent.

Now themes such as the duality of life, paradise and hell, day and night, life and death, sun and moon, life and death are added. Currently it still retains a religious content, however, it is already enriched with ideas typical of artisans, emotions, autobiographical messages, legends, places, food, music, parties and customs of Mexican culture.

Mexican tree of life craft

Where you can find "The tree of life".

These trees are manufactured in Metepec, State of Mexico, Izúcar de Matamoros and Acatlán, Puebla.

However, tradition is more ingrained to Metepec. Among the most recognized potters are:

  • Tito Reyes
    • Modesta Fernández
    • Macario Garduño
    • Paz López
    • Timoteo González
    • Celso Rodríguez
    • José Sánchez de León

Other information about "The tree of life".

There is a national award called “National Pottery and Ceramics Competition “Tree of Life”” and is held every year in the municipality of Metepec.Here there are artisans from different states of the republic such as Oaxaca, Guanajuato and Jalisco, different categories are carried out.

Each year different representatives of indigenous communities in Mexico come together to run a human tree, gather up to 500 people to make different pyramids in native costumes and pray for the peace of the world.Participating ethnic groups include Zapotecs, Huastecos, Maya, Ottomans, Huicholes, Yaquis and Tarahumaras.

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