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Hecho a Mano: Some Popular Crafts from Mexico

by planetnomad on February 13, 2011

They are everywhere you look in Mexico. From the roadside stalls, to the mega Mercados found in both rural and urban areas. They are colorful, detailed and fashioned from an infinite number of materials from tree bark, clay, leather, wool, to silver and copper. Most importantly, they are still made by hand or “hechos a mano”, and reflect techniques which have survived generations of history, dating back to the pre-colonial days. They are best known as Mexico’s handicrafts or simply, “artesanía”.

To visit Mexico and not indulge in its world of crafts is like skirting around its intangible history. There are literally thousands of artisans from all walks of life who maintain those traditional ways of crafting things. Whether you’re walking the tiny alleys of Puebla in search of that precious piece of Talavera pottery or, loading up on Huichol art from the state of Jalisco, you are certainly on track to experience something that shouldn’t be missed.

Here is a list outlining some of the various crafts found throughout Mexico. It is broken down by state and by no means is exhaustive in scope.


Embroidered dresses, children’s wooden toys, sombreros, charro outfits, metates & molcajetes (stone mortar & pestle used for grinding seeds and grains)

Baja California Norte

Cestería (indigenous basketry), abalone shell art, earthenware and ceramic pots, jade jewelry, leatherwork & blown glass items

Baja California Sur

Sea shell art, leather crafts, pottery & palm-frond items (hats, purses & fans)


Huipiles (colorful indigenous dresses), blouses, panama hats, hammocks, palm-frond items, ceramics & detailed wood work including jewelry boxes, picture frames & miniature boats


Wool serapes, rustic furniture, glass/wooden figurines & piñatas


Red cedar furniture, pottery, basketry, ceramics, textiles, tin work, sea shell artwork & woven hammocks


Clay pottery (from gray clay), hand-painted corn husk miniature toys, amber-colored jewelry, Mayan textiles, colorful laca  (lacquer work) on gourds and other objects


Pine needle basketry, bird feather jewelry, cooking utensils made of pottery, Tarahumara wood-carved figures and musical instruments

Distrito Federal (Mexico City)

Hand-blown glass, leather goods & pottery


Agate jewelry, wool textiles, pottery, scorpion jewelry, leather horse saddles, boots & belts, Huichol art and charro outfits


Majolica ceramics, candies, silver & gold jewelry, leather goods, colonial furniture and papel amate (bark paper) paintings


Lacquer ware masks, silver jewelry, hand-painted pottery & woven garments


Silver & obsidian jewelry, orange-clay pottery, bronze & tin bells


Leather saddles, Huichol artwork, forged iron products, blown glass, pottery & paper-mâché items


Stone figurines, woven sweaters, carpets, pottery, hand-crafted wooden products, colorful basketry, candies, metal products, molcajetes & “Tree-of-Life” figurines


Christmas ornaments, wood & leather furniture, guitars, wooden toys, pottery, copper items, straw & reed basketry, candies & lacquer ware products


Floral arrangements, wooden & forged steel furniture, ceramics, masks, woven wool items, tree spine art & palos de lluvia (rain sticks)


Huichol artwork, saddles, pottery, masks & religious art

Nuevo Leon

Charro outfits, clay pottery, forged steel crafts, basketry, rustic colonial furniture, leather goods, glass & furniture


Alebrijes (vibrantly-colored wooden figurines), black-clay pottery, machetes, embroidered items, huipiles, painted wooden masks & woven rugs & serapes


Talavera ceramics, “Tree-of-life” art, huipiles, candies, serapes, onyx products, papel cortado (cut paper), wooden masks & musical instruments and leather goods


Basketry, pastel-colored pottery, cloth dolls, woven wool products, serapes, wooden furniture & masks

Quintana Roo

Woven Mayan textiles, hammocks, huipiles, sea shell art & jewelry, hand-carved wooden figurines & fiber basketry

San Luis Potosí

Red cedar furniture, silver & gold jewelry, pottery, wool & cotton textiles, basketry, serapes, handbags, wooden figurines & forged steel items


Palm-frond basketry, leather saddles, embroidered garments, sombreros, pottery & piñatas


Leather huaraches & boots, hammocks, embroidered garments & household items, wooden masks, pottery, wool serapes & blankets, sombreros, palm-frond basketry & hand-carved ironwood figurines


Hand-painted gourds, pottery, leather goods, palm-frond crafts, mahogany furniture, wood-carved items, textiles & wooden masks


Sea shell art, wooden & stone masks, ceramics, reed basketry & leather goods


Serapes, wooden walking canes, Carnaval masks, silver jewelry, dried corn husk figurines, fireworks & Talavera ceramics


Sea shell art & jewelry, coconut & palm-frond artwork, musical instruments, blown glass, reed furniture & artwork made from vanilla bean pods


Decorative & religious ceramics, huipiles, hammocks, molcajetes, leather goods, sea shell jewelry, henequen products, silver jewelry, guayaberas, wooden crafts & Mayan ceremonial masks


Huichol artwork, ceramics, oak & mesquite furniture, charro outfits & accessories, zinc, silver, copper & brass crafts, leather goods & crafts made from cactus plant fibers

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Travel Edits February 15, 2011 at 8:40 am

Great list, love Mexico’s markets – SO colourful and vibrant…it’s downright impossible to walk through empty handed…still trying to figure out what to do with a tree of life rug from Oaxaca and a sisal woven hammock from Merida!

planetnomad February 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

Thanks for your visit and comments! Yep, I totally understand where you’re coming from when you say you don’t know what to do with certain items you end up buying…you are NOT alone in that category! I too enjoy seeing all the colors, patterns and beautiful work produced. To me, the mercado in any city, town or village is always one of the main draws! Thanks again for your visit. Happy and safe travels to you!

Kirsten February 16, 2011 at 7:17 am

I love love shopping in Mexico but as I usually go without leaving much room in my suitcase, I still don’t have very much I’ve purchased down there. One day when I settle in one place I may do a buying trip in Mexico 😉 Thanks for the Spanish vocabulary lesson as it relates to shopping.

planetnomad February 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

Great to see you here Kirsten! I don’t like to weigh myself down either when I travel, but I usually pack a Chico sac (shh….don’t spread the word) and manage quite nicely to fill the sucker up on my way home…LOL. As for the daily Spanish words, I also benefit from posting them and feel that it’s a good exercise. Thanks for your visit and good travels to you! :)

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