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Thanks for stopping in... We’re a small Mexican folk art store located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We personally choose ALL of our hand made pieces from talented artisans all over the great country of Mexico.

Zinnia Blog

What is a Nicho Box?

Posted by Anne Damon in recent, Religious Folk Art

Mexican Nicho Box


Have you been shopping on Zinnia’s website, come across a nicho box and wondered, what on earth is a nicho box?  If you have, you are not alone.  Let us explain.

 A nicho box, or simply ‘nicho’, is a three-dimensional or recessed display box, much in the spirit of a shadow box, used as a portable shrine to an important figure or loved one.  They originated as an adaptation of the Roman Catholic ‘retablo’, which is a painting of a patron saint on wood or tin.  The key difference is that while retablos are flat, nichos are in the shape of boxes, can be fashioned out of boxes, and often also feature hinged doors, creating an accessible stage-like setting for a significant image.

 Mexican Nicho Box

The nicho has evolved away from the retablo in other ways, too.  They serve loved ones during Dia de los Muertos celebrations and they frequently honor a combination of both people and objects in popular culture.  They can be constructed of humble materials: wood, tin, glass, and even cigar boxes.  Nichos are also notable for colorful and varied decorations, which can range from simple paint or paper, through more complicated renditions to include milagros, glitter and sequins.

 Mexican Nicho Box

Check out our collection of artisanal nichos, and when you have selected your favorite, check out this heartwarming story about nichos as therapy:

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