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Devils and Virgins, Katrinas and Mariachis: A Visit to Mis Amores


Devils and Virgins, Katrinas and Mariachis:  A Visit to Mis Amores

There are some places so cool, so strange, so wonderful, it’s hard to imagine you didn’t dream them.  Mis Amores is one of those places.  Everywhere you look there are handmade devils and skeletons and virgins so perfect, so unique, you have to love them.  Some people don’t get it, of course, but if you like very oddball, very Mexican handicrafts, you will love Mis Amores.

April 6, 2009

A katrina.

A katrina.

You’d think you were in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  Scarlet devils and smoking skeletons come at you from all sides.  Lovely ladies turned to bones primp and model for dead mariachis, as a befigged Adam and Eve look on.  It could only be one place—Mis Amores.

Tucked into the busy Avenida Tonaltecas in handicraft capital Tonala, Mis Amores—My Loves—could easily be missed.  But pass through the door and you are unlikely ever to forget the experience.

Owner Lety Sanabria Pérez has collected the most—depending on your taste—incredible, bizarre, and thought provoking handicrafts and sculptures you can imagine.

Mexicans see death very differently from many other societies.  They know it is inevitable, so instead of being afraid of death, they make it a part of life.   Katrinas, or clay skeletons, are made in any pose and partaking in any activity imaginable—dancing, getting married, lifting weights at the gym.  By making light of death, its pain is lessened.

Skeletons

Skeletons

Many of the objects in Mis Amores are brought back from villages in Michoacan and painstakingly painted by Lety in her shop.  She is at Avenida Tonaltecas No. 80-C, Tonala, Jalisco   45400.

 An incredible Katrina, about five foot tall and beautifully detailed.

An incredible Katrina, about five foot tall and beautifully detailed.

Amazing to think she is all made of clay.

Amazing to think she is all made of clay.

The details are realistic but exaggerated and comical.  It is very difficult to form such fine figures--I've tried it and it ain't easy!

The details are realistic but exaggerated and comical. It is very difficult to form such fine figures--I've tried it and it ain't easy!

Smaller Katrinas, about a foot high.  Each is different.  A lot of work goes into these--and they sell for less than $20.

Smaller Katrinas, about a foot high. Each is different. A lot of work goes into these--and they sell for less than $20.

 Folkloric dancing.  You can almost see them move.

Folkloric dancing. You can almost see them move.

A merry-go-round.

A merry-go-round.

 I love the low-cut gowns and the posture on the lady to the left.

I love the low-cut gowns and the posture on the lady to the left.

Lety, with her creations behind her.

Lety, with her creations behind her.

Incredible detail.  The arm bones, the hair...  Notice that the rib cage and skull are hollow!

Incredible detail. The arm bones, the hair... Notice that the rib cage and skull are hollow!

There are bow-legged guys, too, called Katrin.

There are bow-legged guys, too, called Katrin.

An unusual (and spirited) wall mounted Katrina.

An unusual (and spirited) wall mounted Katrina.

Traditional headdress.

Traditional headdress.

There are witch Katrinas, too, but this is a cheat.  We don't celebrate Halloween (Jaloin) in Mexico, except as a gringo holiday (like you might go to a Cinco de Mayo party).  You can see that this poor gal is less popular--she's very dusty.

There are witch Katrinas, too, but this is a cheat. We don't celebrate Halloween (Jaloin) in Mexico, except as a gringo holiday (like you might go to a Cinco de Mayo party). You can see that this poor gal is less popular--she's very dusty.

I'd always assumed that these were meant to be hard working gals, not that I know much about that line of work, but they kind of look the part.  Now I'm told they are dolls for poor girls.  They are about $3 each, and made of paper mache.  Live and learn.

I'd always assumed that these were meant to be hard working gals, not that I know much about that line of work, but they kind of look the part. Now I'm told they are dolls for poor girls. They are about $3 each, and made of paper mache. Live and learn.

Now here's something I have more experience with--a crowded elevator to Hell.  I just love these guys.

Now here's something I have more experience with--a crowded elevator to Hell. I just love these guys.

Always a surprise to meet my old boss...

Always a surprise to meet my old boss...

 A 'tree of life,' with the Virgin de Guadalupe and Adam and Eve.

A 'tree of life,' with the Virgin de Guadalupe and Adam and Eve.

Another Adam and (very perky) Eve.

Another Adam and (very perky) Eve.

A last supper for devils.  Mexicans are very Catholic, but they have a sense of humor, too.

A last supper for devils. Mexicans are very Catholic, but they have a sense of humor, too.

The most wonderful Frida Kahlo Katrina, with monkeys and parrots and dead goats and dog skeletons. .  This is my favorite piece in the store.

The most wonderful Frida Kahlo Katrina, with monkeys and parrots and dead goats and dog skeletons. . This is my favorite piece in the store.

Pure Frida.

Pure Frida.

The town beauties.

The town beauties.

Mariachis.

Mariachis.

Devil helicopter.

Devil helicopter.

Demon band.

Demon band.

Bus.

Bus.

Staggering out of the cantina.

Staggering out of the cantina.

Painting on tin.

Painting on tin.

Loving couple.

Loving couple.

Another loving couple--a devil and a bearded cross-dresser.  We don't lack for originality here in Mexico.

Another loving couple--a devil and a bearded cross-dresser. We don't lack for originality here in Mexico.

Masks.

Masks.

Fanged mask.

Fanged mask.

You'd look worried too if you had snakes and lizards crawling in your face.

You'd look worried too if you had snakes and lizards crawling in your face.

Ol' Snake-Nose.

Ol' Snake-Nose.

Horned mask.

Horned mask.

Virgin of Guadalupe.

Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Virgin.

The Virgin.

Crosses

Crosses

Tin skull candleholder.

Tin skull candleholder.

These are often made out of old oil cans.

These are often made out of old oil cans.

Small skeletons.

Small skeletons.

Angel dogs.

Angel dogs.

Katrina painting.  Mis Amores is a treasure!

Katrina painting. Mis Amores is a treasure!

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Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.