What do we call them? Huipiles. Not Caftans!

In addition to cultural appropriation, there is a debate raging about what to call the hand-woven, back-strap loomed garments from Mexico that many of us know as huipiles. This is plural. The singular is huipil. (Some huipiles for sale below!)

How do you say it?

Whee-peel.

(or What do you do with a banana? We peel. — Thank you, Mary Randall)

Whee-peel-ess.

Caftan (kaftan) or tunic is a misnomer. I am reminded of this via a text message this morning from Ana Paula Fuentes, who introduced me to Las Sanjuaneras some years ago and was the founding director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. I promised her that you and I would have a discussion about Mexican clothing as a way to spread the word about culture.

I just want to set the record straight that I called these garments thus because it is what the American and Canadian marketplace knows and understands as a fashion definition. We’ve been acculturated since the 60’s when these garments came to us from Europe and North Africa and Asia as casual wear, beach and pool wear, loungewear. Now, with Covid-19, the idea is being reintroduced to the world of contemporary clothing as a perfect solution to comfort while we are homebound.

Let’s have the conversation: Clothing origins from Mexico deserve to be called by their true name. Huipil. Bluson. Blusa. Rebozo. Quechquemitl. Etc. And, we can spread the word about the quality of Mexico’s indigenous weaving by using the true name of the garment. People need to know these are huipiles. Not caftans or tunics.

Bluson: A short, cropped flowing version of a huipil, usually waist-length or hip-length.

Blusa: A blouse, more fitted than free-form; a universal term.

Rebozo: A shawl whose origins are from the Philippines via Spain.

Quechquemitl: A triangular pull-over shawl, scarf, cover-up that is pre-Hispanic and the first indigenous garment.

So, help us out here. When you wear one of these garments, call it a Huipil. Together, we can be influencers and talk about Mexico as being a fashion innovator rather than a follower of Euro-centric style. You give value to the weavers this way, too. Thank you.

Still some beauties from Las Sanjuaneras For Sale

#10. Andrea. Bluson. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#2. Camerina. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide. $285. 34-1/2×34. $285.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Blusa. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #16. Patrocinia. Bluson. Indigo, native cotton, $195.
#24. Aurora. Bluson. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395
#20. Andrea. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.
#21. Margarita. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood, 22-3/4×35. $165.

Shop Open: Las Sanjuaneras Textiles Huipiles, Kaftans, Tunics

Call them huipiles, kaftans, tunics or ponchos. Whatever you call them, call them comfortable, cozy, casual cover-ups. Perfect for lounging or working from home. Perfect for a socially distant safe get-together. Perfect for feeling good in times of Covid-19 and related stress. We are looking for beauty in our lives now especially, and this is one way to attain it.

SOLD. #1. Margarita. 34×43. marigold, iron oxide, indigo. $375.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

There are 27 pieces I’m offering in this collection today. Some are gauzy, light as a feather hand weaves. Some are mid-weight. Some can be used as a poncho. Others are long, short, wide, narrow or cropped. Some are size large and extra-large. Others are small and will fit the petite among us. Please scroll through and make your selection carefully. All sales are final because I will have already paid the weavers by the time I mail them.

Las Sanjuaneras weaver. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

100% natural dyes on native, hand-spun cotton, woven on the back strap loom, with slubs and imperfect beauty

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#20. Andrea. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.

Note: All measurements are in inches. Width is across the front (one side). Please double for circumference. Length is shoulder to hem. Most necks have a 7-8″ opening from shoulder to V.

First come. First served. First email in gets first choice.

SOLD. #4. Delfina. Marigold, mahogany. 34-1/2×38. $365.
SOLD. #11. Margarita. 21×34. Marigold, nanche. $185.
SOLD. #5. Cleotilde. Indigo, mahogany. 38×45. $395.
SOLD. #6. Andrea. Oak, indigo gauze. 35×44. $395.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

#A. Camerina. Guava, iron oxide, indigo. 34-1/2w x 34L. $285.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #12. Catalina. Superfine indigo, native cotton. 38×43. $395.
#7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395.
SOLD. #8. Andrea. 33×42. Guava, indigo, almond, gauze. $360.

This is the last sale from Las Sanjuaneras for a while. I’m going on a road trip to the Midwest on Tuesday and won’t return until October.

You may purchase until Monday morning. I will be doing the last mailing on Monday. Please don’t wait to decide! As you know, we sold out FAST on the last two shipments from this cooperative.

SOLD. #9. Patrocinia. 37-1/2×42. Indigo, marigold. $295.
#B. Camerina. Indigo, mahogany, banana. 30w x 33L. $225
SOLD. #C. Andrea. Oak, marigold, indigo, natural. 33w x 29L. $265.
#10. Andrea. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.
SOLD. #13. Brisaida. 31×23. Beet, mahogany, indigo, iron oxide. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! so I don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #14. Patrocinia. 39×28. Indigo, mahogany. Gauze. $295.
SOLD #15. Andrea. 33×28. Indigo, marigold, mahogany, natural gauze. $295.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

Textile Care: Dry clean or wash by hand. To wash, turn garment inside out. Immerse in cold water using a mild soap such as Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Don’t use Woolite — it leeches color. Gently massage the cloth. Squeeze and roll in a towel to absorb excess water. Hang to dry. Use medium heat to iron if needed.

#16. Patrocinia. 38×25. Indigo and native cotton. $195.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #19. 21×23. banana, almond, indigo, mahogany, brazilwood. $195.

Return Policy: We support artisans and funds get transferred immediately. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

#21 Margarita. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood. 22-3/4×35. $165.
SOLD. #22. Camerina. 20-1/2×26-1/2. marigold, mahogany. $165
SOLD. #17. Aurora. 21×23. indigo, banana, iron oxide. $195.
SOLD. #23. Andrea. indigo, brazilwood, oak, beet, indigo. 32×26. $295.
#24. Aurora. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #3. Delfina. Iron oxide, indigo, natural. 34×32. $295
SOLD. #2. Brisaida. Beet, indigo, natural, 31-1/2×37. $325

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

Encore! San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca, Textile Sale Notice

This will be the last sale from this cooperative for a while. Perhaps until Christmas. I’m not sure. In fact, no more sales until mid-October when I will have more blouses coming from Chiapas and a few more rugs from Oaxaca.

Shop Opens Friday, September 11, 12 Noon ET

The texture of hand weaving — from dense to gauzy!

Tomorrow, Friday, September 11, I will have 20+ pieces for sale from the Las Sanjuaneras cooperative in San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca. We sold out the prior two-shipments in one day. So, get this on your calendar!

This coming Tuesday, I’m taking a break from the blog, from masks, from textiles, but not from Covid-19! I’ll be driving to Ohio and Indiana to visit dear friends — playing it safe on the road with mask, face shield, gloves (for gas stations and toilets), and plenty of hand sanitizer and alcohol spray. I likely won’t be back online until sometime in October.

Kaftans or Huipiles???

Fashionistas are telling us that in this Covid-19 era, we are opting for comfortable, free-flowing clothing that we can wear casually — for social distancing get-togethers, working from home or for lounging around. Lounge-wear is in, they say.

Designers are calling this clothing kaftans or tunics. Most likely because this is a style/name most American women are familiar with. Many designers, like those working with indigenous groups in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico, have appropriated centuries-old textile iconography, branded the pieces under their own label, and are calling what they are selling kaftans or tunics instead of huipiles. Sometimes the woven cloth is cut up and incorporated into a design, something the artisan-makers don’t agree with. The prices can be in the stratosphere. Quadruple what you may find here. We call this cultural appropriation — a human rights issue, I think.

What is a kaftan?

What is a huipil?

What is a tunic?

All natural dyes: beets, mahogany bark, indigo, wild marigold, natural native cotton

My goal is to support a few women artisan weavers who live in remote, inaccessible areas, and who do not have an on-line sales presence. My goal is to sell to people who appreciate the hand-work involved and the time to take a garment from thread to finished piece using the back-strap loom, which is time consuming. My goal is to send funds directly to the artisans so they get paid immediately. I pay them when something sells so your purchase has direct benefit. I pay for shipping in advance so they have no out-of-pocket expenses. So, artisans and I have upfront risk to bring these treasures to you.

We appreciate your generosity and trust!

Why and How Long?

I’m not certain how long I will continue to do this, or if I continue, how frequently I will bring the pieces to the USA. Mostly, it depends on when I return to Oaxaca. It will be more difficult to receive and mail them to you from there. I’m thinking of going back this winter, but this is just a loose confederation of thoughts for now.

One example of 20 pieces we will showcase on September 11

I do this because I can’t think of any better way to directly help the weaving cooperatives I know and who we visit during our textile tours. Since the tours have been suspended for the foreseeable future, I think this is one of the few ways to continuing to give indigenous women a livelihood and purpose. It also helps to keep me focused and purposeful during these times when it is easy to binge-watch a favorite TV show or movie, to bake and eat, to stay in bed longer than I should!

In crisis, there is re-invention, adaptation and evolution. This is what I’m telling myself these days!

Thanks always for your caring, love and support for Oaxaca, for Mexico and her artisans. Con abrazos fuertes,

Norma

Take 20% OFF San Mateo del Mar Textiles

These are the last four pieces from yesterday’s sale. I’m getting ready to send funds to the weavers in Oaxaca. I’d like to be able to say, We sold out, and send them 100% of the funds. Can you help get us over the top, help the weavers and have something beautiful to wear?

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #1. Soft, finely woven cotton. 29″W x 27″ Long. Was $335. Now $268.
#1 Detail
#2 Poncho. 37″W x 31″ Long. Was $450. Now $360.

The poncho is 100% cotton woven on the back-strap loom. A perfect weight to transition from to autumn and winter and back again to spring. For comfy wrapping to take the chill off. Pullover. One size fits most.

Poncho inside finish work.
#3. Dress. Fine cotton with indigo. 25Wx48L. Was $675. Now $540.

A beautifully woven full-length dress with whimsical designs woven into the fabric (called bordado): fish, sea creatures, deer — reflecting the flora and fauna of the region.

Detail #3
SOLD. #4 Black with shades of purple. 25Wx27L. Was $250. Now $200.

All sales are final. I am sorry, we do not accept returns. Funds go directly to the weavers to support their families and life’s work.

Shop Open: Textiles from San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca

It’s hot on the southern coast of Oaxaca on the Pacific Ocean where it meets the state of Chiapas. Hot and humid. Situated on a spit of sand in the Juchitan district sits the fishing village of San Mateo del Mar. The region is home to about 14,000 Huave speakers, a native indigenous language. The community has been in existence for at least 3,000 years.

Today: Featuring the textiles of Francisca Palafox Heran and family

In all my years of living in Oaxaca, I’ve not come across these many pieces woven by the master Francisca, who Remigio Mestas selected as the most outstanding weaver in San Mateo del Mar.

SOLD. #15. Collector’s Piece. Silk, Egyptian cotton, indigo, cochineal gauze blusa, 29″W x 33″L, $995
#15. detail, woven by Jazmin Azucena with her initials JAPP

As you can imagine, there is a need there for flowing, lightweight textiles, and the women are talented back-strap loom weavers who can produce extraordinary, fine, lightweight and gauzy fabrics that are replete with images of birds, fishing scenes, palm trees, sea creatures. The figures are woven into the cloth and are NOT embroidered — a remarkable talent.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#1. Cotton. 29″W x 27″ Long. $$335
#1 detail

Notably, the finest weaver of the village is Francisca Palafox Heran. Her daughter Jazmin Azucena is following in her footsteps. Their textiles and those of the family are featured today.

SOLD. #2 Natural dyed mahogany cotton with indigo, 24″x39″, $455

A few of these pieces are for collectors. Most are perfect for summer into fall and back to spring daily wearing. You can layer them over a silk T-shirt for colder climates.

SOLD. #3 Signed JAPP, indigo, cochineal, wild marigold, cotton/silk, 28×28, $695
#3 Detail with weaver Jazmin Azucena’s initials
SOLD. #4 Indigo, mahogany dyes by Francisca Palafox. 23×28. $525
#4 Detail. Palm trees, turtles, crabs, by Francisca Palafox. Find FPH initials.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #5. Red/black cotton blusa. 25×28. $335
#5 detail, mid-weight cotton
SOLD. #6 Signed FPH Francisca Palafox Heran, cotton/silk, 38×32, $395
#6 Detail with signature — white threads are silk
#7, cotton w/indigo, 25×48, $675
#7 Detail, reindeer, crab, fish, lightening motifs

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #8 by FPH Francisca Palafox Heran, 30×28, $395
#6 Detail, FPH initials
#8 inside out! Threads woven back into the fabric!
#9, mid-weight cotton, black contrasted with purple, 25×27, $265
SOLD. #10, airy-weave cotton, 27×27, $335
SOLD. #11 FPH by Francisca Palafox Heran, mahogany + indigo, 27×31, $425
#11 detail. Can you find FPH initials near the boats?

These three ponchos below are a heavy weight cotton, all made on the back-strap loom by Jazmin Azucena Pinzon Palafox. They are perfect for transitioning from summer to autumn, from winter to spring. An easy-to-wear cover-up — for style and comfort, almost like wearing your own cozy blanket! One size fits most. A pullover with open sides.

SOLD. #13 Poncho, 37×31, $450
Inside poncho detail — amazing back-strap loom finish work
SOLD. #14, Poncho, cotton, 37×31, $450
#12, Poncho, 37×31, cotton, $450
SOLD. #16 Traditional machine embroidered Juchitan huipil, $85 — sew the sides to fit you!

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

Textile Care: Dry clean or wash by hand. To wash, turn garment inside out. Immerse in cold water using a mild soap such as Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Don’t use Woolite — it leeches color. Gently massage the cloth. Squeeze and roll in a towel to absorb excess water. Hang to dry. Use medium heat to iron if needed.

Return Policy: We support artisans and funds get transferred immediately. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.