Shopping in San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca

My sister and I set out for San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca, to visit the potter Don Jose Garcia Antonino who makes life-size human figures sculpted from local red clay called barro rojo.  We decided to go before everyone arrived for the wedding so that we could focus on the shopping day at hand.  Barbara has been wanting to get one of Don Jose’s sculptures for years.  She was set on getting one she could see eye-to-eye with.  Yes, they are that big!

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Jose Garcia Antonio‘s daughter dusts off the figure Barbara selected while his granddaughter watches us.  He is featured in the recently published book, Grand Masters of Oaxaca.  Calle Libertad No. 24, San Antonino Castillo Velasco. Telephone (951) 539-6473.  email Jose Garcia’s son at josemiguelgarcia2010@gmail.com

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San Antonino is mostly known for it’s intricate multi-colored embroidery with designs of flowers and birds that embellish blouses and dresses.  The quality and amount of the embroidery plus the finish work determine the price of a garment that can range from 200 pesos to 6,000 pesos (that’s about $17 USD to $525 USD).  The white on white version is known as the Oaxaca Wedding Dress.

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Here at Artesanias Viki on Calle Libertad No. 1, (telephone 571-0092) sister Barbara models a manta (natural cotton) blusa with hot pink embroidery on the bodice.  Dueña Virginia Sanchez de Cornelio and her daughters, also included in the Grand Masters of Oaxaca folk art book, have a stash of stunning blouses and dresses in all types of colors, sizes, intricacy of embroidery, and prices.   Note the pansies and the little figures that make up the smocking on the bodice of the white dress.  These can take six to nine months to embroider, we are told.

We probably spent an hour or more at the pottery studio and then a good hour-and-a-half with Señora Viki trying on clothes.  Good thing we did this trip sola — just the two of us.  After a lunch on the patio at Azucenas Zapoteca at the San Martin Tilcajete crossroads, we went to Mailboxes Etc. in Oaxaca city to pack and ship the girl, which Barbara nicknamed Viki!

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San Antonino is just before you get to the town of Ocotlan de Morales, about 40 minutes beyond Oaxaca on the way to Puerto Angel.  There’s a sign that directs you to turn right off the highway.  It is beyond San Martin Tilcajete, the alebrijes village and Santo Tomas Jalieza, the backstrap loom weaving village.  You can make a day of it along this route.   Hire a taxi for 120-150 pesos per hour or take a collectivo for 10 pesos per person each way.

Our mode of transportation was trusty Teotitlan del Valle Sitio Zapoteco taxi driver Abraham.  Running errands later in the day, we hopped on a moto-taxi which we call a tuk-tuk.  Here’s a bit of pueblo scenery with Barbara profiled in the rear-view mirror!

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Fortunately, I downloaded these into my computer before I lost my camera, so I’m able to share them with you.  Hope you enjoy.

12 responses to “Shopping in San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca

  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if you can tell me rough prices for the embroider blouses and dresses. I can see a lot of work goes into them and want to make sure I can actually afford one before making the trip from the city to the village! Thank you!!

  2. I too am interested in purchasing a large amount of Oaxacan dresses and blouses, the San Antonio style, deshilado and others as I would like to start a small business here in the states and sell them. Who would not want to own such a pretty work of art!
    Also, do you prefer a certain mail/delivery company there?
    Any addresses for these shops or village locations would be so very much apperciated.

  3. Hi there, would you happen to have these beautiful artisans contact info? I am visiting Oaxaca for the first time in February and would love to place an order of embroidered blouses and dresses. Hope you can help. thank you!

    • You can contact Merry Foss at merryfoss@hotmail.com
      She works with a cooperative that makes and exports these blouses.

    • Hi! Would love to know if you bought a blouse or a dress? Do you have any photos or insights on price? I’m in Oaxaca city now and unsure whether I should make the trip to the village!

      • I have both blouses and a dress. A good blouse can cost 1,800-2,500 pesos. A dress is double depending on amount of embroidery, if there is deshillado (cutwork), intricacy of embroidery and amount of crochet work. Check the inside seams to make sure the piece is finished well. I don’t think you need to go to the village. Just shop around in the city for quality. Sometimes you can find something nice from a reseller on the street. Check the stalls on the side street up past the Santo Domingo church between Alcalá and Garcia Virgil. The best blouses are in los Baules de Juana Cata inside the Los Danzantes patio. Also check the shop El Nahual on Calle Reforma.

  4. Hello Norma, Do you know what the flor inmortal is, or do you perhaps have a photo of it? I am interested in the indigenous use of plants for a course I am trying to put together. You also mentioned that basketry is one of the crafts found in the village. Do you have any photos of the baskets, or of the plants from which the fibers come to make them? Thank you very much! Jim

    • Jim, I have no idea what the flor immortal is. My suggestion is to search for the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden online and then contact the curator-founder, Alejandro de Avila B., to ask any specific questions you may have. The garden is filled with plants native to Oaxaca that are used for medicinal and cooking purposes. The baskets of Oaxaca can be woven with the fiber from the leaves of the agave plant (called pita), palms, and bamboo. They are woven in various villages around the city. I wrote a blog post on the basket makers at Benito Juarez Market and have included photos. The petate weave pattern is ubiquitous to Mexico. In Ocotlan and Tlacolula there are incredibly beautiful market baskets woven from stipped bamboo. The handles are covered with maize/corn leaves. You can use the search engine on this blog to find the post. I hope this helps. -Norma

      • Thank you very much, Norma. That does indeed help, and I will follow your advice. I am relatively new to your blog, and I’m sure that after looking through it I will have more questions. One in particular that comes to mind is if you or anyone you know has tried to make a big shipment of furniture and household decor items from Mexico to the U.S. ? Another is if you have books you recommend about the plants, basketry, artesania of the Oaxaca area (or Mexico in general)? Thank you! Jim

        • Jim, this year The Grand Masters of Oaxaca Folk Art was published with support from Banamex Foundation and FONART. It is a compendium of all the great artisans/artists in Oaxaca. Another excellent resource is FOFA–Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art. They have a website and I link to them from my front page under Favorites. They have just published a book about the young artisans of Oaxaca. My Mexican friends who export use DHL to ship. You might also ask Sheri Brautigam of livingtextilesofmexico.wordpress.com about who she used to recently ship textiles to the U.S. I don’t know about shipping furniture and household items from Mexico to the U.S. I know there are trucking services but I’ve never used them. I read your website. Sounds like you have a lot of wonderful knowledge to share. Hope to stay in touch. -Norma

          • Norma, I’m familiar with that beautiful book. I was so overloaded coming home from my last trip that I chose not to buy it, and to leave four of the Arte de Mexico series with a friend. I regret it now. From the little I’ve looked at your blog it is obvious that your knowledge of Mexico and Oaxaca is incredible. I love artesania, and have just recently become very interested in the botanical and insect resources used to make handicrafts and other things. We’ll ‘talk’ more about this soon. Thank you for your help. Glad you enjoyed my website. Jim

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