The Typical Oxcart of Costa Rica

September 17, 2019

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization honored Costa Rica’s vibrantly painted oxcarts in 2005 for their contribution to the heritage of humanity.

The traditional oxcart is the most famous type of craftsmanship in Costa Rica.Traditionally, the oxcart was used in Costa Rica as a form of transportation and a means to carry goods from one place to another. For many families, the oxcart was the sole means of transportation, and a vital part of their survival. One of the main goods that Costa Rica exported was coffee. It was the oxcarts that loaded up the cargo at the coffee plantations, and traveled on small, rough roads to the main ports. This trip could sometimes take up to 15 days.

Oxcarts were painted with local designs that were meant to help others identify the origin of each cart. As the movement grew, oxherders began including more designs, like flowers or portraits of people, and sometimes even beautiful landscapes, and soon the designs on oxcarts became an area of pride for oxherders and their local regions.

The oxcarts in Costa Rica have a long, deep history in economics and the arts. These carts are not just a means of transportation; they represent the spirit of a country and also perseverance and persistence.

So if you want to have a close look to this history symbol you need to visit the capital of oxcart production, Sarchí, where you’ll find the biggest Oxcart in the World.

Today there are two factories in Sarchí that you can visit to see how oxcarts were traditionally made and painted. Both Fabrica de Carretas Joaquin Chaverri and Fabrica de Carretas Eloy Alfaro offer daily demonstrations where you can get a closer look.