The Mexico Chapters: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Whereas the paper flags seen in Mexico are now made from tissue paper, and more frequently plastic, the art of papel picado is pre-Hispanic in origin and can be traced right back to the Aztecs. Mulberry bark was used to make a form of rough textured paper called amatl. Amatl was transformed into codices, offerings and ritual paper clothing. Similarly to modern-day Mexican practices, flags and banners were also made to decorate streets, temples, homes and fields for religious ceremonies.

These paper-cuts photographed at the Museo Nacional de Antropología are representations of gods and natural spirits created by 'healers' praying for rain or to cure diseases. In the photograph above, the focus of the paper display is a napkin or bed (a square patterned piece) around which all the other figures are placed. A lovely concept.

Photos © Lizzie Ridout