Pueblo Magico Malinalco, Mexico: Rebozos Are Here, Too

Now I’m back in Oaxaca after a whirlwind nine-day folk art study tour featuring the ikat rebozos of the State of Mexico (Estado de Mexico). Rather than cover a range of territory, I like to stay put and go deep. So, we spent the week meeting the people who weave rebozos and tie the elaborate fringes, learning the differences in design and quality. Plus, a side trip to silver mecca Taxco to visit the Spratling Ranch (more about this in another post).

Camelia Ramos, and poster about her father, Issac Ramos Padillo

Camelia Ramos, and poster about her father, Issac Ramos Padillo

This included a day trip to Pueblo Magico Malinalco, a short 30-minute drive over a mountain range from Tenancingo de Degollado along the pilgrimage route to Chalma. We spent a day there, first going to the studio workshop of Camelia Ramos Zamora, following a dirt road that led us to a bougainvillea covered adobe cottage under the shadow of an extinct volcanic outcropping.

Brilliant colors combine to create wearable art in Camelia Ramos studio

Brilliant colors combine to create wearable art in Camelia Ramos studio

Camelia told us the story about her father, Isaac Ramos Padillo. He moved from Tenancingo to Malinalco to marry her mother and worked as a stone mason. When he was age 66, Camelia had the idea to sell rebozos in town. He disclosed he knew how to weave rebozos, something she never knew. So, they started the workshop and now the entire family weaves.

 

Above left, Camelia’s husband Jose working on the back strap loom. Above right, a pre-Hispanic figure woven into the cloth using the ikat technique, with natural dyes.

Rusty nails become perfect dye bath to create a beautiful mushroom color

Rusty nails become perfect dye bath to create a beautiful mushroom color

They make two levels of fine cloth. The more affordable rebozos are woven on pedal looms using commercially-dyed cotton. The top-of-the-line rebozos are woven on the back strap loom and can be made with natural dyes, which the family makes by hand. They use indigo, cochineal, huizache and even rusty nails!

Came chooses the color palette from cotton yarns made in Puebla

Came chooses the color palette from cotton yarns made in Puebla

Came, as she is called, explains that cotton is a wearable, comfortable fabric, offering protection from the sun, warmth in the shade. She explained that different colors identified the social class of the women who wore the rebozo in years past. Her father, who died in 2011, created new patterns and said the tradition wouldn’t survive unless there is innovation. He introduced color and creativity in cloth.

 

Above left, a selection of rebozos in the Malinalco gallery Repacejo, owned by the Ramos family. Right, Came models a traditional bird design rebozo originated by her father, dyed with cochineal and indigo.

Over 4,500 threads make up the warp of this back strap loom

Over 4,500 threads make up the warp of this back strap loom

Let me dream, let me create, said Isaac Ramos Padillo. Came, with her husband Jose Mancio and son Hugo Mancio Ramos, and their extended family of nephews, are working to keep the tradition alive.  They are the only rebozeros of Malinalco.

Our group photo with Camelia Ramos at her country workshop

Our group photo with Camelia Ramos at her country workshop

I will be organizing this rebozo study tour for either mid-September 2016 to coincide with the Tenancingo rebozo fair or in winter, mid-February 2017. There will be a few modifications in the itinerary we just completed. Please tell me if you are interested and which time of year you prefer. Get on the notification list!

 

Above, left. Malinalco, the magic town, and on the right, Britt and Susie taking a break off the Zocalo.

 

Above left, Came’s son Hugo, giving us an indigo dye demonstration, and on the right a nephew preparing the back strap loom for weaving.

 

 

2 Responses to Pueblo Magico Malinalco, Mexico: Rebozos Are Here, Too

  1. I didn’t know about the rebozos bit the hilltop Aztec Shrine at Malinalco is very special.
    http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/malinalco.htm

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