Pedro Linares started as a skilled maker of carton Judas figures and figurines for Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and many other artists from the Academia de San Carlos. The art form of alebrijes was created by Pedro Linares after he became ill at 30 years old. His own unique alebrijes originated from a dream, depicting his death and rebirth in a mountainous setting inhabited by these fierce creatures.
While he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There were trees, animals, clouds, sky, rocks, etc.; he felt no pain and was very happy walking down there. Suddenly, rocks, clouds and animals turned into bizarre creatures; he saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and were shouting the word: "Alebrijes." Every animal was shouting louder and louder: "Alebrijes, Alebrijes, Alebrijes!".
The sound was terrible, and Linares was not able to stay there for long. He got a terrible headache and ran along a stone road where a man was walking. Linares asked the man for help as he wanted to escape. The man told him that he should not be here yet, and said that Linares had to walk by that road a few meters ahead for the exit. Linares ran until he was in front of a narrow window, passed through that window, and then woke up.
After his illness subsided, Linares gave life to his vision and the art of making alebrijes was born. He wanted his family and everyone to know about the animals he saw by taking a piece of paper and molding the figurines from his memory, then painting them as he saw them in his dream.
Soon, Pedro Linares would be renowned as the best artisan in Mexico. Alebrije makers and artists popped up all over Mexico, taking inspiration from Pedro Linares' work. These figures are prized in Mexico and countries around the world. Diego Rivera stated that no one else could have fashioned the strange figures he requested. Work done by Linares for Diego Rivera is now displayed at the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City. Pedro Linares received the National Arts and Science award in the Popular and Traditional Arts category in 1990, the highest decoration to artisans granted by the Mexican Government. Two years later, Pedro Linares died at the age of 85.
His three children and later grandchildren kept the Linares name synonymous with the refined art of cartonería. Alebrijes continue to be produced by the Linares family and in other workshops across Mexico. They are exported to art galleries exhibiting Mexican art worldwide and are an excellent representation of Mexican talent.
- Bercovitch, Helyn (7 September 2001). Mexconnect (In memory of Don Pedro - Alebrije art from a master artist) http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/2604-in-memory-of-don-pedro-alebrije-art-from-a-master-artist. Missing or empty
- "En Calavera", Susan N Masuoka, UCLA