The town of Olinala in Mexico was producing lacquerware gourds, chests, boxes, trays and other items prior to the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century and they are still the main source of the town’s income. Decorated gourds like this one were once used to prepare and serve chocolate to nobles.
These pieces are made by first applying a layer of color (in this case red) and then another layer of color (black on this one) and scraping away the top layer to form designs. This type of Olinala lacquerwork is called Rayado, which means “scratched.” It is the more difficult of the two techniques used in making these art works, as things like turkey feather quills and agave thorns are used for the scratching.
The small black designs on this gourd are rabbits, lizards, tadpoles, flowers and snakes. They decorate the cut out lid also, along with a central flower, circles and a meander (a geometric design made up of one continuous line). Even the stem has been shaved and then given black stripes. Both the inside of the lid and the inside of the gourd have been left the rich, deep red. There are three evenly spaced painted panels around the sides, each depicting a rabbit, a traditional motif that links today’s artists to pre-Hispanic artisans.
When we turn the gourd over, we see circles, geometric meanders and a central flower (photograph #3); notice that the red color on the bottom has not faded like the rest of the gourd has. This gourd is in very good original condition, despite the color fading and the very tip of one of the scallops on the lid missing. There are no cracks, mold or other damage. The highest point is 7 inches to the top of the stem and the widest point is 9 inches. Since the gourd is hand carved, there is only one way to insert the lid.
This is a very large lacquerware gourd and a wonderful piece of Mexican folk art.
For further information here is the link to the Wikipedia page:
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