Meet the Artisan

Juan Zeferino Rivera

My name is Juan Zeferino Rivera and I am from Puebla de Temalacatzingo, Guerrero, México, on January 10th of 1951. When I was 6 years old I used to clean the guajes or bules (small natural woody containers), jewelers, money boxes, big and small jicaras (natural faience containers), and zompantle wood containers. Once the have been spread with chia seed oil and polvedo (dust), I started to burnish and to color them with different shades.

Once painted, they are polished with a soft cloth twice a day, after the lacquer is dried, we décor them, add the design, and we finish covering with corn leaves. We pack them and fold them in a petate (traditional bedroll), next day at 3 am we are ready to carry them in a donkey and we proceed to start our journey that may end until 9-10pm. After our traveling we rest for 4 or 5 days and we arrive to Tepalcingo, Morelos, place were Easter Friday celebration takes place each year.

The Temalacatzingo contest tradition started in 1975, and I was awarded 1st place with a Devil mask creation made out of Zompantle wood.

Next year, I participated with an owl mask that in his beak was carrying a snake, I was awarded 1sr place again. In the following years in Campeche, I was given a 1st place, in Colima I was awarded 2nd place with the making of a mermaid playing the guitar piece. In Mexico City I was awarded many 2nd and 3rd places in different pieces such: buses, eagle, fortune wheel, and nacimientos all made out of wood.

In 2014 in the Elder contest in Morelia, Michoacan, I was awarded 1st place with the creation of a bus piece.

In 2015, on august 28th I was awarded the National Prize with the creation of a cricket cart allegorical piece. I keep on thriving and pursuing improvement in my artisan traditional lacquer work, here in my hometown Temalacatzingo, municipality of Olinala, Guerrero.

Juan Zeferino Rivera collection

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