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Papel Amate, or painted bark paper, is an art form with clear pre-Hispanic origins. Originally, traditional bark paper was considered a specialty of the village shaman and used only for special rituals. Later, the Otomi people of Puebla began to use bark paper as a canvas for painting. Typically, they will craft the paper from fig or mulberry tree bark, then sell or trade the homemade paper to other indigenous groups for decoration. These bark paintings, or papel amate, are not just an art form unique to the indigenous tribes of Mexico, but will add rich depth and culture to your home decor.
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Amate paper, once used in ancient times for communication with spiritual guides, is made with up to four separate varieties of tree bark. The tree bark is first cooked in boiling water for 3 or 4 hours. Then the bark fiber is washed and placed on a table. After washing, a stone called a Metlatl is used to smash the bark so it can be extended and formed to the desired thickness and measurements. Then the tree bark fiber is left to dry in the sun for 5 hours. These steps are a technique originally created by the Healers of Northern Sierra of Puebla, and dates back more than 200 years.
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