Papel Picado Mexican Decorative Arts from Paper

Papel Picado is considered one of Mexico’s decorative arts. It is a decorative handicraft that is made from cut paper to get the desired design. This unique design paper creation is usually carved with a small chisel to get a good level of complexity.

The craftsmen can create nearly as many as forty designs at a time. The common themes that become the favorite designs of Mexican society are the motives of birds, flowers, and skulls. The papers are generally displayed during important and religious days such as Easter, Christmas, marriage, quinceañeras, and baptism.

Papel Picado Mexican Decorative Arts

Papel Picado Arts

In Mexico, Papel Picado is also a common part of the day of the dead. San Salvador Huixcolotla, a city in the Mexican state of Puebla is considered as the central this art because they have a large community of artisans who produce high quality product.

Traditionally, the art of making Papel Picado has been passed down from generation to generation. Around 1930, the spread of this craft from Huixcolota spread to other parts of Mexico such as Puebla and Tlaxcala.

In the 1960s, the craft spread to Mexico City then to the United States and Europe. The first step in making Mexican-style decorative art is to make the design first on paper then printed with transparent plastic to copy the design.

This is done to protect the original image and to make it easy to make multiple copies at once. After that, by using some chisels tool with different shapes or scissors, the craftsman cut the pieces of paper from the pile. This will speed up the paper-engraving process with multiple design copies at a time.

After that, each paper is separated into Papel Picado sheets that are usually hung by yarn or taped to a wooden handle like a flag. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Mexico officially recognizes and supports this decorative art.

In 1998, the governor of the Puebla specified the art that was produced in San Salvador Huixcolota was part of Puebla’s Cultural Heritage (Patrimonio Cultural del Estado de Puebla).


Papel Picado is one of Mexico’s decorative arts. The papers are generally displayed on Easter, Christmas, marriage, quinceañeras, and baptism day.

892 points