Oaxaca Day of the Dead Photography: Best of the Week

Federico Chavez Sosa at his loom in Teotitlan del Valle

Federico Chavez Sosa and his son Eric Chavez Santiago demonstrated tapestry weaving techniques and using natural dyes at the family workshop in Teotitlan del Valle.  All photos by Norma Hawthorne copyright 2010, during Day of the Dead Photography Expedition 2010.  Now taking registrations for 2011.  Contact: normahawthorne@mac.com

Sugar cane in the Abastos Market, Oaxaca

Sugar cane is sold in the market for use at home altars.  The belief is that the sugar cane that frames the altar provides a passage for the dead to enter and take food from the altar to sustain themselves during their one-day visit back to earth.

Adding lime juice to cochineal dye

When lime juice is added to the smashed cochineal bug, a brilliant color of red is produced.  The stain is so intense that it took several scrubbings to get the hands clean.

Boy in White Face Masquerade

On October 30, children and their parents assemble on the plaza in front of Santo Domingo Church for a procession to mark the return of deceased children.

Pescaderia El Tiburon

Selling huachinango, a type of Pacific red-skinned fish, at the Abastos Market.

Renovations in Teotitlan del Valle

A new plaza in front the the Municipal Palace is being constructed as a gathering place for celebrations and for a new handcrafts market.  Here, one of the older adobe structures in getting a facelift.

Spinning Wheel in Teotitlan del Valle

This traditional wooden wheel is used to prepare bobbins for weaving.

16th Century Catholic Church Built Atop Zapotec Ruins, Teotitlan del Valle

Foreground and backdrop are pure Zapotec, framing the Catholic church built with the stones from the pre-Hispanic Zapotec temple.  In the background is Picacho, an ancient Zapotec mountaintop worship site.

Altar at San Filipe Neri, Oaxaca

Extraordinary wood carving embellished with gold leaf frame the Madonna in this remarkable Oaxaca church.  Don’t miss the Saturday morning church walking tour by Linda Martin; meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Catedral on the Zocalo.  Donation is 100 pesos each to support a non-profit for children.

Street vendors on the Zocalo sell cigarettes, candy, and handcrafts.  Women typically leave school at age 12 and must find a way to earn a living.

The Old Cemetery, Xoxocotlan--Day of the Dead

Family members gather by candlelight around the tombs of their loved ones.  A cherub marks this grave site, surrounded by cockscombs and marigolds.

The Munecas

At El Nahual Gallery on Avenida Cinco de Mayo handmade dolls rest against handbags woven by Tito Mendoza and his family members.

Xoxocotlan Red Irises

A wrought iron fence frames a grave site illuminated by candles and adorned with red irises.

Jesus The Protector

The Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan cemetery is an extravaganza of light, incense, and folk art.

8 Responses to Oaxaca Day of the Dead Photography: Best of the Week

  1. My family and I are staying in Teotitlan at the end of this year and are saving up to buy a rug. What can I expect to pay?

    • You will find favorable prices for high quality wool rugs that are dyed from natural materials from Federico Chavez Sosa and a few others. Prices range from $250 for 2×5 ft. rugs to $800 or $1200 for larger 4×6 or 6×8 ft. rugs. If you pay cash (dollars or pesos) you may have a bit of bargaining power (say 10%). But prices are low because the dollar is stronger against the peso to begin. So, please don’t bargain too high or walk away from something you really love.

  2. LOVE the photos Norma – can’t wait to come in January.

  3. Been there; done that, but oh, what wonderful memories your photos awaken. I’m presently studying the Maya, Norma, the people who led the entire world with their development of arithmetic, writing, astronomy. Your photo of the church built with stones from a Zapotec temple causes horrific pain brought on by learning how, when and where the Spaniards ERASED these leaders’ entire history. Keep up your good work.

  4. Norma,
    These photos are great! I’ve so enjoyed finding out more about the Day of the Dead through this site. Can’t wait until I’m finally able to see it for myself!
    Tabitha

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