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by Ricardo Alberto Pérez

Humidors provide the ideal conditions for cigars to preserve their appearance, aroma and texture, right up to the moment they are smoked. In particular, they regulate humidity and temperature and so prevent their disintegration or becoming dried out. They come in different sizes and forms, generally adapting to the number and size of the cigars they contain and to the preference of the smoker.

They have undergone quite an evolution over the years. Besides fulfilling their specific functions, humidors have also taken on esthetic qualities. Their creators are specialized in the production of these items, turning out pieces of art that may be compared to sculpture. Many sing the praises of these objects declaring them to be worthy of the cigars they hold.

Some of the most outstanding manufacturers of humidors these days are Raúl Valladares, José Ernesto Aguilera, Neury Alberto Santana, Moisés González and Marlene Acosta. In the western part of Cuba, in the province of Pinar del Río, teams of artisans collaborate under the brand name of De Cuba.

Raúl Valladares is the creator of Humidores Cohiba—his humidors harmonize with the Cohiba brand name taking into account the characteristics of their cigars and vitolas. They are both exclusive and majestic.

José Ernesto Aguilera uses the bodies of these boxes to illustrate fragments of day-to-day scenes involving those anonymous picturesque characters that play an important role in life on our Island. He calls this series Tesoros de Cuba. Aguilera has been praised for his talent at mixing different materials: cedar, silver, gold and bronze along with precious and semi-precious stones. He has been acknowledged as the leader and founder of the Humidores Habana project, which has been creating these objects d’art for the past twenty years.

The humidors fashioned by Neury Alberto Santana focus on highlighting Cuban colonial heritage in a spectacular manner. In many of his pieces, he has been inspired by the façades of some of the tobacco factories such as H. Upmann, Partagás, Trinidad and San Cristóbal.

Since 1998, the duo made up of Moisés González and Marlene Acosta have been turning out unique compositions that most resemble sculpture, often using motifs from peasant life and rural vignettes. The 35 artists and artisans of the De Cuba group are led by Luis Milán, producing excellent work that is striking for its unity of vision.

In Cuba, humidors come even closer to being considered works of art when they are decorated by some of the Island’s famous painters. Each of their distinctive styles is translated to these mini-canvases, easily and immediately identifiable by art lovers.

The list of these artists is a long one that includes Zaida del Río, Carlos Guzmán, Reynerio Tamayo, Aldo Soler, Kadir López, Rubén Alpízar, Guillermo Rodríguez Malberti, Milton Bernal, Eduardo Miguel Martínez and Arién Guerra. Each year, during the Festival del Habano, they are asked to enrich and add a cultural sheen to the festive event.

Reynerio Tamayo and Guillermo Rodríguez Malberti have produced designs that show their obvious delight in being associated with the subject of cigars imprinting their mature sense of humor on these small scale unique objects. The works signed by Zaida del Río and Carlos Guzmán are outstanding for their vibrant use of color and symbolism, letting our imaginations run wild with suggestions of a variety of stories. Aldo Soler seduces us with his depictions of faces and Rubén Alpízar, as always, delves into a personal mythical world.

There are many reasons why humidors have become very valued objects that can be presented to famous visitors. They have become part of Cuban culture, a splendid accompaniment for the cigars they protect.

Thanks to LaHabana.com for this article.

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