The *Real* Oaxaca: A Very Brief History

Oaxaca is a mix of cultures and history — a convergence of multiple tribal groups speaking a variety of indigenous dialects in addition to (or in some cases, instead of) Spanish.  In Oaxaca you will find Zapotec, Mixtec, Kuna, Amusgos, Huaves, Mixes, Triquis and Chinantecos.  Each group is distinctive.  Archeologists and anthropologists explain that indigenous women were weaving hand-spun cotton dyed with plant materials and shellfish as early as 1500 B.C.E.  The great Zapotec temples of Monte Alban, Mitla and Dainzu, which flourished from about 300 B.C.E. to about 900 C.E., were decorated with stone carvings that historians now believe were derived from ancient cloth patterns that pre-dated their construction.

The designs we see today on pottery, rugs, table linens and alebrijes (fanciful carved and painted wood figures) — incised, embroidered, brocaded, woven, embellished — incorporate these early archetypical patterns recorded by Spanish explorers from the codices — the colorful pictograph books created by the Mayans, Aztecs and Zapotecs.

Come explore the Real Oaxaca — knowing that you will have an authentic experience that contributes directly to the families who make the art.  Our commitment is to travel lightly with low impact, contribute to sustainable development, and support fair trade.

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