Disney / Movies & Events

The Significance of Alebrijes + Fun Facts About Pixar COCO’s Pepita and Dante

Alebrijes (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈβɾixes]) are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. … Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.

The Significance of Alebrijes

Have you ever heard of Alebrijes? Me either until a few months ago visiting Pixar Animation Studios learning about Pixar Coco.  Alebrijes are animals that escaped the nightmares of an artist and appear as a variety of different species – both real and fantastic and  native to the Valley of Oaxaca in Mexico.

They are rare and unique animals that hold a special place of being a spirit guide. You will not find any 2 that are alike and they are each different with their vibrant colors, and details throughout such as patterns, stripes, shapes, facial expressions and more.

Writer and Co-Director Adrian Molina collected Alebrijes as a kid and now they have become part of the movie Pixar Coco. While we were learning about Alebrijes, we got a chance to make our own Pepita in the workshop.  Seeing everyone paint theirs so differently shows it really is true that no 2 are alike and that is why they are you own spirit animal.

Check out my Pepita that I made! Isn’t she beautiful? She will forever sit on my shelf and guide me along the way.

Two characters in the movie Pixar COCO are guides to Miguel and great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda along they way. They are Dante, Miguel’s street dog and great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda spirit guide Pepita.  How these characters came about in the movie is pretty interesting with some fun facts to share with you.

Fun Facts About Pixar COCO’s Pepita and Dante

  • The inspiration for Dante came from a Xoloitzcuintli dog, which is the national dog of Mexico.
  • The animators got ideas from other famous Disney dogs in “Lady and the Tramp,” and Dug from “Up” to develop Dante’s movements.
  • Being that Dante is hairless the animators had to add in wrinkles, slotches and mostly skin stimulation to his structure.
  • Dante’s tongue was modeled after the tentacles for Hank in “Finding Dory.”
  • Having Dante’s tongue always hanging out to the side gave him more of a personality than being  just a beat up street dog.
  • There was an international short called “Dante’s Lunch” before Pixar Coco was created.

  • Pepita is a mashup of a lion and an eagle with a  lizard tale, eagle feet and wings, front arms/head of a jaguar, and ram horns.
  • Pepita’s appearance is inspired by Alebrijes with bright colors that stand out.
  • In the film Pixar COCO, Pepita casts a lighting from her body as she walks around.
  • While creating Pepita, the animators found it challenging to create natural movement from the combination of different animal anatomy and studied it down to the claws to make it believable.
  • Alebrijes along with Pepita became an addition to the film as spirit guides.

COCO opens in theaters everywhere on November 22nd! 

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