Tajado Tradicional (Traditional Hand-Carved Furniture)
There is a magical energy that comes from the handcarved wood furniture created by this family. Mario Gasimiro Tellez has honed his skill as a master wood carver for over 25 years. He works his magic with an inner strength and self-control that is evident in his work. At the 2010 Semana Santa Concurso in Uruapan, Michoacán, every piece he entered won a prize.
Although woodcarving has only been in his family for the last two generations, Mario is already passing on his trade to his five children - everyone helps with something — from carving to sanding or painting.
José and Antonio are Mario's cousins (Mario is on the right, José Carlos is in the center and Antonio is on the left). They all live in Cuanajo, a small mountain town known for its carving of pine and cedar furniture, picture frames and other wooden household items. For generations, the residents of Cuanajo have been making rustic and utilitarian pieces to satisfy the basic needs of the community. Some of the carvers, such as Mario and his family have gone further by putting their own interpretation into the pieces they make. The perfecting of the current level of their expertise has demanded many years of hard work and vision.
Mario makes mostly tables and chairs, José Carlos (26 years old) concentrates on cuchareros (spoonracks), trasteros (free-standing shelves), cabaceros (headboards) and bowls, while Antonio's (30 years old) specialty are incredibly intricate baules (trunks). All three call on their imaginations and Purhépecha heritage for inspiration when designing their furniture. Although they use mostly pine, cedar and a very hard wood called parrota is sometimes available. Another wood, cirimo, is very beautiful but hard to come by — the wood has variegated colaration.
The community of Cuanajo all mark their wood products with MR - marca registrada (registered trademark) -"Marca Colectiva Mueble Artesenal de Cuanajo Región de Origen" — identifying their furniture as from the Cuanajo region." The trademark guarantees their work cannot be copied and that it is recognized as authentic and of a quality expected from that area. It also helps them continue making culturally pure wood working that can be sold commercially as "traditional" Mexican folk art. Age-old techniques are protected representing their tradition, cultural values, design and symbolism that they employ in their work. The entire town acts as kind of a cooperative, working together to keep their work "pure."