The oxcart was declared a national symbol, on March 22nd, 1988, by Decree No. 18197-C, published in La Gaceta No. 131 on July 11, 1988 during the presidency of Mr. Óscar Arias Sánchez. It symbolizes the culture, peace and the work of Costa Ricans, in other words, humility, patience, sacrifice, and consistency in efforts to achieve the objectives.
Its history goes back to the mid-nineteenth century, when it was the extension of coffee, with roads full of mud and rugged slopes, during harvesting and hauling. The oxcart was indispensable for the transport in Costa Rica, especially for the exclusive use of carry coffee and the sacks of grain, as well as for transportation of fertilizers for coffee, but it was used for the entire cargo types such as sugar cane in sugar mills, candy cane, wood, river rocks, corn, beans, etc. The oxcart even made trips throughout the country, with families or friends. It was quite a spectacle to see the girls, beautifully dressed, accompanied by young gallant, strolling in oxcarts.
Then Costa Ricans began to give a preference to solid wheel carts, to prevent accumulation of mud between the radios. Its inspiration, according to several writers of the time, was born in a device used to mount the cannon artillery brought by the Spaniards, who called “cureña”.
Its use is not unique to Costa Rica because is used throughout Central America. However, the Costa Rican ox cart is the only one that is decorated with geometric shapes, flowers and animals. In fact, although the decorations are obvious similarities, there are no two exactly alike painted carts, because of the changes in the details and arrangement of the drawings.
Currently, because it is not useful in the work field, the Costa Rican Typical Oxcart has become a craft object, as much as there are workshops located in Sarchí in the province of Alajuela, engaged in the construction and sale of oxcarts craft. On November 24th, 2005, was declared a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.