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Amate Bark Paintings
Amate is a type of bark paper that has been manufactured in Mexico since the pre-contact times. It was used primarily to create codices.
Amate paper was extensively produced and used for both communication, records, and ritual during the Aztec Empire; however, after the Spanish conquest, its production was mostly banned and replaced by European paper. Amate paper production never completely died, it was revived in the mid-20th Century as an example of Folk Art.
Amate paper is still made using the same basic process that was used in the pre Hispanic period. The process begins with obtaining the bark for its fiber. Traditionally, these are from trees of the fig. The softer inner bark is preferred but other parts are used as well.
Bark is best cut in the spring when it is new, which does less damage.The bark is then boiled for several hours to soften it. The fibers are arranged on wooden boards and beaten together into a thin flat mass. The best paper is made with long fibers arranged in a grid pattern to fit the board. The fibers are beaten to smash them together, then smoothed out and taken outside to dry into paper. When dry the paper is then drawn or painted on and sold.