Paper Mache by Andres

Jose Andres Chavez Morales

Michoacan, Mexico

Jose Andres Chavez Morales

Andres has a flair for Paper Mache. His pieces express everyday people from musicians to doctors. His pieces range from 9 inches to 5 feet tall. Andres takes pride on each of his pieces and is always looking for new creations and styles. Andres is recognized throughout Mexico. There is no mistaking Andre’s art work for his attention for detail is present on each piece. Andres is 50 years old (born in 1958) and has been creating these pieces for the past 18 years, in Michoacan.

pictures of artisan & workshop to follow




Style 1 & 2

Style one is a modern interpretation and is very refined, showing actual muscles and beautiful form.  One piece, measures 16" tall overall, base is 3x6" and figure, with removable club is 10" at widest point.  Figure has sandals. 





Style two is more traditional - Andres created the skeleton THEN dressed it in a more traditional looking Jaguar costume (made of stiff canvase).  Note:  detail is fine and costume is built-around a finished skeleton (this piece separates into two pieces at the waist).  It is slightly taller at 17" than the top one.  The figure lacks sandals.  Overall measures 17" tall, base is 4.75" wide by 3.25" front to back, figure is 10" wide with removable club.  $145.00

(usually this one would sell for $170 but I've priced it the same as the above.. even though its more work and he charged me more).





Paper Mache Jaguar Warrior

by Jose “Andres” Chavez Morales


Andres has a flair for Paper Mache. His pieces express everyday people from musicians to doctors as well as historical figures such as this Day of the Dead (skeleton) Aztec Jaguar Warrior. His pieces range from 9 inches to 5 feet tall. Andres takes pride on each of his pieces and is always looking for new creations and styles. Andres is recognized throughout Mexico and is an award winning artist. There is no mistaking Andre’s art work for his attention for detail is present on each piece. Andres is 50 years old (born in 1958) and has been creating these pieces for the past 18 years, in Michoacan.

The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos, Día de los Difuntos or Día de Muertos in Spanish) is a traditional holiday in Mexico and many South American countries. Based on ancient Aztec mingled with Christian beliefs, this celebration of the memory of deceased ancestors is celebrated beginning at dusk on October 31st through November 1 (All Saints Day) and November 2 (All Souls' Day). While the dates overlap, it is not connected with Halloween, although it shares some historical origins. This holiday is quickly gaining popularity in America and could be considered "the new American Holiday".

Papier-mâché (French for 'chewed-up paper' due to its appearance), sometimes called paper-mâché, is a construction material that consists of pieces of paper, sometimes reinforced with textiles, stuck together using a wet paste (e.g., glue, starch, or wallpaper adhesive). The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries.

Papier-mâché paste is the substance that holds the paper together. The traditional method of making papier-mâché paste is to use a mixture of water and flour or other starch, mixed to the consistency of heavy cream. While any adhesive can be used if thinned to a similar texture, such as polyvinyl acetate wood glue, the flour and water mixture is the most economical. Adding oil of cloves or other additives to the mixture reduces the chances of the product developing mold. The paper is cut or torn into strips, and soaked in the paste until saturated. The saturated pieces are then placed onto the surface and allowed to dry slowly; drying in an oven can cause warping or other dimensional changes during the drying process. The strips may be placed on an armature, or skeleton, often of wire mesh over a structural frame, or they can be placed on an object to create a cast. Oil or grease can be used as a release agent if needed. Once dried, the resulting material can be cut, sanded and/or painted, and waterproofed by painting with a suitable water repelling paint.

When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they faced armies of elite Aztec warriors, primarily the fierce rival castes of Eagle and Jaguar warriors resplendent in their warlike apparel. While Spanish military methods and tactics prevailed, the memories - and myths - of the ancient warrior castes remained in the folk imagination.

Although few explicit pictorial references to the Eagle and Jaguar castes were permitted in post conquest art and discourse, there are some exceptions: notably the sculptures and especially the murals of the 16th century Augustinian monastery of Ixmiquilpan.

A pair of carved stone escutcheons on the church facade prepare the visitor for the dramatic painted walls of the nave. Surprisingly, both escudos feature pre-hispanic imagery without reference to Christian symbols.

Eagles and jaguars with plumed headdresses and bearing war shields, or chimalli, flank Aztec symbols, and appear to be engaging in a dialogue with speech scrolls issuing from their mouths.

Behind the sculpted limestone facade lies a treasury of 16th century frescoes (fresco secco) unique in Mexican mural art. Beneath the choir, fragmentary murals show facing Eagle and Jaguar warriors engaged in dialogue, probably prior to combat, reiterating the images of the facade.

An astonishing sequence of battle murals unfold in enormous friezes that stretch along both sides of the nave. Eagle, jaguar and coyote warriors dressed in pelts, foliated robes and plumed helmets engage in a bloody confrontation, decapitating each other with their obsidian edged swords against a backdrop of giant foliage. Along the north wall, warriors do battle with bizarre supernaturals, including figures of pregnant women emerging from huge acanthus buds.

Although the significance of these dynamic and colorful murals has been much debated, their theme may reflect the turbulent 1570s, when Ixmiquilpan was under constant attack from nomadic Chichimec tribesmen. The Chichimecs were finally repelled by the settled Otomí Indians of the area in a decisive battle, viewed at the time as the triumph of Christianity over paganism.

These frescoes may commemorate this victory, and explain why such an unorthodox, pre-hispanic style would have been permitted by the friars in a Christian church, although it is possible that they also represent a more ancient Otomi ritual - a remarkable survival almost 50 years after the Spanish conquest. The scenes stand in stark contrast to traditional monastic murals of the time - usually monochromatic and devoted to biblical subjects - some of which, illustrating Christ's Passion, can be seen in the sacristy at Ixmiquilpan.

"Jaguar warriors" (Classical Nahuatl: ocēlōtl) were certain members of the Aztec army that were professional soldiers. These soldiers would be classified as special forces with the distinction of either jaguar or eagle warriors. These two motifs were used due to the belief that the eagle and jaguar represented Huitzilopochtli god of the sun and Tezcatlipoca god of the night sky respectively. The Jaguar Warriors were used as warriors and the battlefront in military campaigns, whereas Eagle Warriors were scouts, spies and messengers. There are many Pre-Columbian statues and images of these warriors in codices.

When a boy was born his umbilical cord was cut off and dried and then buried on a battle field signifying that his life would be dedicated to warfare. Every able bodied boy was trained to fight. Soldiers were ordinary people for the most part, with the exception of the Jaguar and Eagle warriors, often members of royalty who acted as professional soldiers and scouts.

A vital part of everyday life for the Aztecs was warfare. All able body men were trained to be warriors. In readiness for adult life boys learned about fighting and weapons at school. To fight in battle was considered a duty and an honor. Warriors helped teach in the calmecacs. The warriors took the students to the wars and taught him how to take a prisoner captive. A boy became a man after he captured his first prisoner.

The Aztec's courage and strength helped them build their empire and establish themselves as the fiercest of all the tribes in the Valley of Mexico. They easily defeated attacks from neighboring tribes. Declarations of war were greeted with joy; it was seen by Aztec warriors as a time to show their skills in battle. Soldiers dressed in costumes designed to scare their enemies such as the jaguar warriors who wore ocelot skins and eagle warriors who wore a helmet shaped like the beak of a bird of prey. Ordinary troops wore costumes decorated with patterns and had war emblems made from feathers and leather.

A site was chosen for the battle and the armies met. The fighting began after insults and more cries were called out and drums and conch shell trumpets were played. Then the fighting began. The battle was usually short and ended with the surrender of the weaker side and the taking of prisoners.

The plan was to disable an opponent by striking at his leg so he could be easily taken prisoner. Thus, the battles left very little casualties. After the battle the enemies' town was looted and the people were captured. Prisoners were the real war trophies since they were used as sacrifices in religious festivals. Soldiers sometimes demanded death as their right after they had been captured. A soldier became part of a family and was treated like a son until it was time for him to be sacrificed.

Aztec jaguar and eagle warriors were members of the nobility. Their elaborate costumes were worn to show the wearer's strength and importance in the Aztec society. The warrior's leather or wooden shield was decorated with brightly colored feathers. Below the warrior's shield hung leather strips to protect his legs. Their wooden clubs were edged with extremely sharp blades of obsidian. A thong held the club to their wrists.

The Aztecs and their enemies used spears, slings, bows, and arrows to fight at close range. Razor sharp blades were chipped from obsidian and mounted on weapons. A freshly made obsidian blade was sharper than the Spaniards steel swords. But, obsidian blades soon lost their edge and were easily broken. The Spaniards used steel swords, guns, and cannons that could take out many Aztecs at a time. The Aztecs wore close-fitting breastplates and used wooden shields for protection. The Spaniards armor was better suited for fighting in Europe, the Aztecs' lightweight breastplates were sometimes substituted for their hot and heavy metal armor.


Zanzibar Tribal Art

1731 L ST

Sacramento CA 95811

(916) 443 5601