Ocumicho Car with Devil Figure M1008

Ocumicho figure of a little red devil (diablito) riding on the back of a green and beige car. Approx 7 x 6 x 4.

 Price on request.

Mexican Folk Art Devils from Ocumicho

Mexican clay figures of little devils, or diablitos, are some of the most interesting pottery creations from the town of Ocumicho, in Michoacan. The village of Ocumicho is home to the Purépecha people, whose womenfolk have made clay toys and whistles (pitos or silbatos) for generations. In the 1950s a missionary introduced molds for coin banks in the shape of dolls, pigs, and other animals, and these, too, became popular items to sell in nearby markets. Men of the village engaged in subsistence agriculture and forestry-related activities. The women’s folk art, however, is the third most important source of income, and is therefore a critical factor in the survival of the Purépecha of Ocumicho.

How the Diablitos Came to Be

There are a variety of stories about how the village artisans began to make little devils, but the most credible is from an article by Claudia B. Isaac, called Witchcraft, Cooperatives, and Gendered Competition in a P’urepecha Community. (Alternate spellings for this group of people include P’urepecha, Purépecha, and P’urhépecha.)

Marcelino Vicente and “Women’s Work”

Although clay work was engaged in only by women up until the 1960s, an unusual young man, Marcelino Vicente, began creating strange little figures of devils, monsters, and unholy scenes. Called diablitos, or “little devils,” the creatures surprised everyone by selling well in the markets. Based upon the success of these figurines, other local clay workers began to make similar items.

Some diablitos are quite simple; others consist of more complex scenes with many figures situated in groups. The devils may be found in religious settings, including at depictions of the Last Supper, and are often sexual in nature.