Last Sunday, a group of ten WARP conference participants gathered in the lobby of our hotel at 9:30 a.m. We set out for a day-long walking tour of textiles and folk art, concentrating on a few superb venues to see the best of the best.
Walking around Oaxaca on a Sunday morning.
I had set meetings up in advance with two of Oaxaca’s most distinguished shops where the finest textiles are curated and sold, Arte Amuzgo and Los Baules de Juana Cata.
Efigenia, with exquisite Amuzgo huipil, rare caracol purpura (purple snail) dye
I asked the owners if they would select five to ten of their most outstanding textiles, explain the dye and back-strap weaving process, and talk about the maker and the region of origin.
Rare silk + Egyptian cotton huipil, indigo + caracol purpura dyes, San Mateo del Mar
Both are doing an outstanding effort to rescue lost weaving traditions by encouraging villages to bring back an art form on the edge of extinction.
Baby alpaca translates to traditional Mitla weaving, theme of corn + cacao beans
Both have galleries in the historic center of Oaxaca where they offer a market for indigenous artisans to show and sell their work.
Amazing indigo, native coyuchi cotton and caracol purpura blusa, Amuzgos
They give attribution to the weavers, too, by including their names and villages on the hang tags of the clothing.
On the colonial walking street, Macedonio Alcala, Oaxaca
But, first I thought it was important to offer a backdrop to Oaxaca, by explaining a bit about her history and culture. I invited Janet, who was born and raised here, to tell us about her city.
Gold-leaf interior, Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca
Our first stop was at the cathedral on the Zocalo, where the story of Colonial Oaxaca begins. We then walked up the Alcala, making a coffee stop, a shopping stop for hand-made paper earrings (on special request from Louise), and gathered in front of Santo Domingo Church.
Like a tapestry, silk and Egyptian cotton huipil
Here, we talked about the conversion of indigenous people, the construction of the city, the power of the Dominicans, and the wealth provided by cochineal.
The underside is as beautiful as the front!
With a stop, too, at Andares del Arte Popular before lunch with a welcome from manager Eric Chavez Santiago, by the time we landed at Los Danzantes, hunger had overtaken us. Lots of walking, but we didn’t even complete 10,000 steps!
Efren at Los Baules de Juana Cata explains dedication to preserving Oaxaca textiles
Organic blue corn tortillas, Los Danzantes, Oaxaca
The aperitif, fresh frozen mango mezcal and agua de tuna
Here, I will not bore you with our seven course tasting menu that I ordered in advance. It included grilled watermelon salad. Coconut shrimp. Rib eye tacos. Wild mushroom lasagna. Let’s go straight to dessert.
Chocolate casacada with house made vanilla ice cream, raspberry drizzle
And, if that wasn’t enough, another taste of my other favorite at Los Danzantes:
Goat cheese flan with toasted, caramelized nuts, honey and chocolate sauce
Oh, and fresh fruit. The figs were out of this world.
I ordered this so we would all stay healthy.
Back into the world of textiles, I want to show you some other beauties that we had the privilege to see this day.
Cochineal dyed silk on Egyptian cotton, embroidered, Ayutla
Irene’s find at Arte Amuzgo
Lollie and Elaine holding down the dressing room fort
Gauze weave cotton by Francisca Palafox, San Mateo del Mar
Getting a closer look
Rare green and coyuchi cotton, native to Oaxaca, Amuzgo
Oaxaca is a vast treasure trove of textile wonderfulness. In the colder mountain regions, the cottons are triple-ply and thick for warmth. Along the coast, the weave is much lighter gauze to cover-up but to also deal with hot, humid weather. Some villages weave. Others work in embroidery.
Close up of Mitla wool rebozo, with traditional corn and cacao pattern
There is a reintroduction of silk weaving, and wool is a perfect wrap around material for rebozos (shawls) to protect from winter chill in the valleys.
Stacks of fine garments at Los Baules de Juana Cata
Early Sunday morning, a perfect time for a stroll in Downtown Oaxaca