Ocumicho’s Mischievous Little Demons

Deep in the Purépecha homeland of Charapan, we find the small community of Ocumicho, known for its fantastic and fanciful variations on the theme of the devil. These colorful clay figures are hand-made, and are pure mischief and imagination.

When you see one of these figures, you know beyond a shadow of doubt, “Ah! That’s from Ocumicho! No one else does it like this!”

Over the years, the little demons of Ocumicho have evolved into a wildly popular piece of artisanware. They have become a particularly sought-after treasure at the famous Artisan Flea Market, held during the celebration of Night of the Dead in Pátzcuaro, and in the Palm Sunday and Holy Week events in Uruapan and Pátzcuaro.

The Night of the Dead Artisan Flea Market in Pátzcuaro (around the last week of October and the first week of November) is held in the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, right across the street from Hotel Mansión Iturbe. It is here and at this time that the “best of the best” examples of the beloved diablos are to be found – sixty seconds from your hotel room!

Given its very distinctive nature, this cultural and artistic genre of the Purépecha clay work is virtually a “registered trademark.” It is an unwritten law that the style will not be duplicated elsewhere.

Where did these little guys come from? One legend tells us that one “little devil” traipsed through Ocumicho and pestered everyone and everything – he got into the trees and killed them; he entered the bodies of dogs, making them agitated and barking; then, he pursued people, making them sick or even driving them crazy. It occurred to someone to give the little devils a place of their own where they didn’t have to annoy everything around them: their “place” was in the form of clay, which we see today. So when we see one of these pieces and we say, “That’s simply ENCHANTING!” it may not be too far from the truth….

Whatever the case, these little demons of Ocumicho have managed to transcend social and international barriers, peaking the curiosity of all of those who see them – they become absolutely irresistible. In fact, the ONLY way to resist them – is to look to the other side of the aisle of the flea market … where you will doubtless see OTHER irresistible artisanware!

The little demons of the Ocumicho Purépechas were formally recognized with a National Arts and Sciences Award (2009).

*Text and photos property of Hotel Mansion Iturbe.

Portal Morelos 59
Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
61600 Pátzcuaro, Michoacán

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