Chatino Textiles from Oaxaca at Santa Fe Trunk Show

The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market runs from Friday night to Sunday afternoon the second weekend of July each year. Festivities start days in advance with galleries and retail shops all over town featuring artisan trunk shows from various parts of the world. (Mark your 2017 calendar for July 14, 15, 16)

La Chatina! Vintage blouses. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

La Chatina! Vintage blouses, embroidered + crocheted. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

Barbara Cleaver brought a collection of vintage Chatino blouses to La Boheme clothing gallery on Canyon Road, and anyone with a connection to Oaxaca showed up to see what was in store.

Chatina blouse detail. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

Cross-stitch Chatina blouse detail. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

Barbara, with her husband Robin, run the Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido, and are long-time residents of both Santa Fe and Oaxaca. The coffee farm they manage is not far from the Chatino villages near the famed pilgrimage site of Juquila.

Chatino people have close language and cultural ties to the Zapotec villages of the Oaxaca valley. Their mountain region is rich in natural resources and many work on the organic coffee farms that are an economic mainstay. About 45,000 people speak Chatino. Hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects are still spoken in Oaxaca, which make it culturally rich and diverse. This is reflected in the textiles!

Barbara has personal relationships with the women embroiderers of the region and what she brought to show was the real deal!

Chatina woman wears extraordinary embroidered blouse. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

Chatina woman wears extraordinary embroidered blouse. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

The blouses are densely embroidered with crocheted trim.  The older pieces are fashioned with cotton threads and the needlework is very fine. Newer pieces reflect changing times and tastes, and include polyester yarns that often have shiny, gold, silver and colored tinsel thread.

We see this trend in other parts of Mexico, too, including the more traditional villages of Chiapas where conservative women love to wear flash!

The shoulder bag — called a morral — is hand-woven and hand-tied (like macrame), and equally as stunning.

Fine example of Chatino bag from Barbara Cleaver

Fine example of Chatino bag from Barbara Cleaver

UPDATED INFORMATION

A follow-up note from Barbara Cleaver about the bag:

The Chatino bags have a proper name in Spanish, which is "arganita."

Morral is also correct, in the sense that all Mexican bags are

generically called that. Also, the knotted part ( where they stop weaving and start 

knotting the woven part), is then often embroidered. In Karen Elwell's photo,

the birds in the knotting are embroidered over the knotting, rather

than being created by the knotting.
Underside of knotted and embroidered Chatino bag, from Barbara Cleaver

Underside of knotted and embroidered Chatino bag, from Barbara Cleaver

To enquire about purchasing any of Barbara Cleaver’s Chatino clothing and accessories, please contact her at  Mexantique@aol.com

Chatino shoulder bag, called a morral. Photo by Karen Elwell.

Chatino shoulder bag, called a morral. Photo by Karen Elwell.

Karen Elwell, whose Flickr site documents Oaxaca textiles, says that the flowers and birds border (above) are machine stitched and the parrots and flowers (below) are hand-knotted from the warp threads of the woven bags. (See Barbara Cleaver’s more exact explanation above.)

Barbara has many examples of these. I was just too busy looking to take good photos!

Invitation to La Boheme trunk show, pre-Folk Art Market.

Invitation to La Boheme trunk show, pre-Folk Art Market.

14 Responses to Chatino Textiles from Oaxaca at Santa Fe Trunk Show

  1. Hola Norma

    Hi from hot and sunny PA. I ran across your post about Barbara’s Chatino bags last week and I want to thank you so much for posting the text and photos. I had always asssumed — perhaps somewhat carelessly — that the lower designs on the bags were knotted. But after seeing the underside of Barbara’s bag, I believe I’ve been wrong. You know — although I’ve been collecting these morrales for many years — I never did look at the underside of what I believed that a knotted area of design. I haven’t had a chance to look at my own morrales yet. But, I will take Barbara’s word as true that those colorful lower designs of birds and flowers are embroidered atop the knotted warp threads. Thank you once again for clearing up this issue.
    Best Wishes…. Karen

    • Hi, Karen. Good to hear from you. I am an admirer of your work, commitment and documentation. Thank you. I bought one of these bags from Barbara. I hope to visit these Chatino villages one day. Yes, her explanation adds valued information to the discussion of Oaxaca textiles. Glad it benefits us all. Best to you! Norma

  2. And…I must add, that if in Santa Fe, La Boheme (663 Canyon Road),
    Margaret Beattie’s store is a carefully curated collection of beautiful clothing and rare ethnographic textiles and artifacts.
    This includes a truly extraordinary collection of early and superb Navajo jewelry, from the collection of the late, great, Teal Mckibben.

  3. Missed it! Dang!!! But knowing Barbara it would be a feast for the eyes and soul!

  4. Super! Well done! Thank you so much Norma and Barbara, of course!

  5. Norma – does Barbara sell these blouses at her store or were they at the store to admire?

    How does one get on a mailing list that talks about the various activities before the weekend events?

    Thanks Susanne

  6. Barbara Bruneau Cleaver

    Ay, Norma!
    Que linda….
    What a beautiful blog…thank you so much!

    It was tremendously hard work, and also enormous fun. And you are so right- we were rocked with knowledgeable Mexico/Oaxaca aficionados. many of my favorite people in Santa Fe…and from afar, too

    A high point was having time with you, my dear.

    We feel fortunate that, as our coffee farm ( Finca Las Nieves), is in Chatino country, we have forged some wonderful friendships in the Chatino community.
    They are an extraordinary, proud and very ancient people.
    I admire them.

    Mil gracias, Norma….hasta Oaxaca!

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