Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Spring/Summer 2010 issue.

Whether you find yourself shopping in a small town mercado or in a large city, chances are you will come across traditional Mexican toys, simple devices often made out of wood, recycled tin cans or woven fibers. Indeed, long before Nintendo or PlayStation found their way into our living rooms, the task of finding ways to keep children amused and entertained in small towns throughout Mexico fell upon local craftsmen and artisans, who took it upon themselves to hand-make a small variety of toys. Their design has remained largely unchanged through the passing of time, and they continue to be popular among children and adults to this day.

The Spanish conquest, along with the colonial domination that ensued for nearly three centuries in Mexico, brought forth an amalgamation of cultural influences, most of which originated in Spain. This gave Mexican children the opportunity to discover all sorts of toys previously unknown to them. Other countries, such as France with its popular board games of the 18th century, also influenced local artists and artisans, with tools and techniques that allowed them to constantly evolve their work. Additionally, during the colonial domination, all communication between Europe and the Orient took place through Mexico, which added yet another layer of cultural and artistic fusion.

So, while it may be difficult to argue that any of the traditional Mexican toys are actually unique to our country, it’s fair to say that they are the result of artistic and cultural traditions that have existed for centuries. Shown are some of the more popular ones.