Here are 9 fun facts about COCO Alebrijes that I learned on my trip to Pixar Studios campus and in the interviews with the creators and animators of Disney’s COCO. It is a Mexican Folk art made stared by Pedro Linares. The animators at Pixar paid homage to Mexico with Pepita model after the Mexican art of sculpting and painting Alebrijes.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of getting to see 35 minutes of Pixar’s COCO and to interview Christian Hoffman – Character Supervisor for COCO, Alonso Martinez. We took a deep dive into Pepita and Dante’s character development and also learned a ton about Alebrijes! As you may know, COCO is beautiful story with a focus on family members on a back drop of bright colors.
We learned so much about Alebrijes and the COCO Alebrijes! It is so funny, but now that I know what they are, I keep seeing them all over the place. Now, I am dying to go to go to Mexico again so that I can have my own Alebrijes collection.
My Alebrijes collections started at Pixar Animations Studios with an awesome gift of a 3D model of Pepia that we got to paint in class with Alonso Martinez.
We learned all about Alebrijes during our interview of Christian Hoffman and Alonso Martinez. You can read my interview with Directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, and Producer Darla K. Anderson.
9 Fun Facts about Alebrijes
- Alebrijes are folk art from Mexico.
- The style of art was started with Pedro Linares. His family made Pinatas so they were very focused on art. One day, when he was very sick, Pedro had a fever dream where chimera animals came to life in a forest. When he awoke and recovered, he started making the animals out of paper mache.
- They are Mexicos most recognized art forms.
- Alebrijes are carved a local wood called copal. It is extremely soft and easy to carve.
- They do not come from a religious mythology.
- Each person brings their own artistry to making Alebrijes.
- In Mexico, they have festivals with parades and giant Alebrijes.
- COCO Alebrije Pepita is modeled after Alebrijes paying homage to Mexican Folk Art.
- The creator of Pepita and Dante, Alonso Martinez started collecting Alebrijes when he was a kid.
COCO Alebrije Dante
You can tell from watching only 35 minutes of the film that Dante was going to bring a lot of comedy to the film. He is a street dog that follows around Miguel.
COCO Dante Alebrije is modeled after a Mexican hairless dog called the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced and shortened to Cholo). These are dogs that are said to safeguard the home from evil spirits and have healing powers. They are also said to serve as guides for the dead to the land of the living to the land of the dead.
The animators found animating Dante particularly difficult because of his hairlessness. Hair on animated dog hides some flaws in the animation process.
Without hair, the anatomy of Dante needed to be perfect. Also, since the skin is exposed you can see the wrinkles in Dante’s skin. This also posed a new challenge.
Alonso Martinez started collecting Alebrijes as a kid and had his dream come true when he was able to create the Pepita character for Pixar film COCO. His passion for Alebrijes was written all over his face as he told us the history of Alebrijes.
Even though Alebrijes do not have religious meaning, they are so much part of the Mexican culture that Disney Pixar took creative license by incorporating them into the world of the Land of the Dead. Pepita is paying homage to Alebrijes and shedding light on the beautiful art of Mexico. After meeting Alonzo, I want to decorate my home with Alebrijes from Mexico as well. I can definitely see the appeal.
Pepita is a chimera animal with ram horns, lizard tail, feet and wings from Eagle, Tiger face and arms. She acts as a spirit guide in the Pixar’s COCO. I cannot wait to see the rest of the film so I can see more of her.
Color your own Day for the Dead Craft. (Get this Cute Craft HERE).
MORE Pixar COCO
- You can get Pixar COCO ears at Disney World during Disney World Halloween. It is one of the many reasons to visit Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
- Get ready for Dia de los Muertos by downloading these FREE Disney Pixar’s Printable for COCO here
- If you are unfamiliar with the significance of the day of the dead, learn 8 Amazing Details about the History and Significance of Dia de los Muertos
- Curious how all this animations happens, here are 11 Fun Fact Bringing Skeletons Life Pixars COCO.
Disclosure: I was invited by Disney to attend this all expense paid press trip but all opinions are 100% my own. Please note: Occasionally, we use affiliate links on our site. This in no way affects our editorial decision-making. Feel free to make purchases through the links contained in this post.
*Photo credits: Deborah Coleman / Pixar