Tag Archives: Easter

Natural Dyes and Indigo Blue Easter Eggs

I’ve never seen dyed Easter eggs here in Oaxaca, but perhaps someone could correct me if I just haven’t noticed them. Yet, here we are in the world of natural dyes. My personal favorite is indigo blue. So, when this post from Improvised Life came to my inbox this morning, I felt compelled to share it.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Made Simple

This segues into the world of natural dyes here in Oaxaca, where a kilogram of indigo from the coast costs over $100 USD. In the spirit of indigo blue, I’d like to share these photos with you of indigo blue dyed textiles taken during recent Natural Dye Textiles and Weaving Study Tour programs.

 

Thanks to Juana Gutierrez, Galeria Fe y Lola, Alfredo Hernandez Orozco, Bii Dauu Cooperative, Elsa Sanchez Diaz, Arturo Hernandez and Porfirio Gutierrez for their talent to keep the world of natural dyes alive here.

Semana Santa–Easter Holy Week in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

As I write, someone is in the bell tower pulling the rope that rings the campana — a clarion call to gathering. Today is El Lunes Santo in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca.  You still have time to catch a taxi or colectivo from Oaxaca to arrive for the 9 a.m. mass in the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo church. Afterward, the procession will begin from the church courtyard and wind through the village, an all day event. Just listen for the music to find it!

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Teotitlan del Valle is divided into five different administrative units that are part of the Municipio, the volunteer usos y costumbres municipal governing body. Each of the five sections will host resting places along the route that symbolizes the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross.

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On Good Friday, there will be two separate processions — one carrying the Christ and the other the figure of Mary. They will come together in the village municipal courtyard in front of the rug market where a mass will be celebrated before they are returned to the church.

Here are some links to posts, photos and videos about Semana Santa in Teotitlan del Valle:

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Easter Sunday is a quiet day here, celebrated in the home with an elaborate meal and gathering of extended family.

 

In Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Only Some Call It Carnaval

The Monday after Easter in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, begins a five-day ritual practice about sustaining community. This is an ancient tradition that pre-dates the Spanish conquest of 1521. Some call it Carnaval (aka Mardi Gras) but it isn’t. It is called Baile de los Viejos or Dance of the Old Men, according to my interviews with local Zapotecs who know the oral history and culture because they live here and learned the ancient lore from their parents and grandparents.

Today and tomorrow in Teotitlan del Valle, the procession starts around 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. in Oaxaca) followed by the Dance of the Old Men in the Municipio Plaza.

Carnaval is a pre-Lenten celebration that we know all too well from the festivities in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro. It is rooted in a Roman celebration that extended throughout Europe during the middle ages.

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Dance of the Old Men, the Viejitos, is a way for each of the five sections of the village of Teotitlan del Valle to give anonymous feedback to its elected officials, the president and the committee.  It is a self-governing mechanism that gives voice to each person in the community that is transmitted by the masked actors who represent them. The mime is a ritual about giving feedback, paying honor and tribute to leaders and keeping communication open for honest dialog.

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It’s true that the Dance has taken on a more carnival atmosphere, complete with food and drink and ice cream vendors. Children participate in the masked dancing and there is a frivolity in the air. But, this is a serious practice that ensures cohesion and lets the leaders know how well they are doing, if they are meeting expectations and where they may be falling short. Humility is rewarded here. Arrogance is not. Leaders are reminded that they are in their voluntary and elected roles at the behest of the people.

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This is a self-governing model for Mexico’s Usos y Costumbres villages, many of which are in Oaxaca.

The generation of grandfathers and grandmothers want their children to know that this is not Carnaval. It is an important, ancient Zapotec practice about how to live together peacefully, with self-governance. Let’s do our part to help perpetuate the accurate story.

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Easter Week Begins: Lunes Santo or Holy Monday in Oaxaca

Lunes Santo or Easter Monday is celebrated with reverence in the Oaxaca village of Teotitlan del Valle where I am living.  This is a day of prayers and offerings, of procession and peace.  The week before Easter, known as  Semana Santa in Mexico, begins on Palm Sunday.  After a 7:30 a.m. mass, the volunteer church committee begins the procession followed by the townspeople.  A key figure is the Centurion, represented by a young boy dressed in Roman soldier garb, and riding a beautiful horse.  They are followed by a contingent of boy-soldiers, the legion of one hundred.

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There are thirteen stops along the processional route where villagers in the procession stop to worship, take refreshment, and rest. This is Teotitlan’s tribute to the pilgrimage along the Via Doloroso, Way of Sorrows and the Stations of the Cross.  The altars may be ornately decorated with tapetes or handwoven rugs, which the people of Teotitlan del Valle are famous for weaving.

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If Lunes Santo is about the solemnity of Easter, it is also about honoring infants and toddlers who are dressed like angels and represent the promise for new life and new beginning.

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Many women wear purple, the color of royalty, symbolic of Jesus as king.

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Both men and women carry lit beeswax candles, and a designated man at each stop hands out roses to the worshipers to lay before the altar.

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The aroma of copal incense and chanting fill the air, along with the sound of the village band out in front of the procession.  At each stop, they take a rest too, then start up again as signal for the time to start walking again.

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It is a hot day and those who are not carrying umbrellas to shield them from the sun seek the shade along sidewalks where buildings cast longer shadows.  I picked up the procession in Section Three of the village, where I met up with friend Ernestina and her daughter Guadalupe, who we call Lupita.

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People here have a strong commitment to their families, their beliefs, and their desire to continue traditions that are centuries old and more, since most of Mexican Catholicism blends with the mysticism of pre-conquest indigenous practices.

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And, who can resist the resting stops with delicious offerings:  tamales, locally made ice cream, and drinks.  Today I had the most delicious bean paste stuffed tamal flavored with avocado leaf and a  tamale with mole rojo and chicken.  Each person in the procession got a plate of three at each stop!  Thanks to the women who do the cooking and the men who serve and each family who supports the community.

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Then to quench thirst, the pilgrims are offered hibiscus flower juice (agua de jamaica) or atole, a corn, water and chocolate drink, special for celebrations and served in hand-painted gourds.  Children and adults alike loved the nieves, the Mexican flavored ices.  Today we had tuna and nuez (tuna is the fruit of the nopal cactus and nuez is nuts) or lime sorbet with mamey ice cream, with a cookie to top it off.

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Carnival in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Carnival is a Catholic festival traditionally celebrated before Lent, six weeks before Easter.  In Mexico it combines masquerade, dancing, music and mucho mezcal and is usually a two-day event that goes long into the night.

Here in Teotitlan del Valle, the rug weaving village located about 15 miles outside of Oaxaca city in the Tlacolula valley, Carnival begins the Monday after Easter and continues for five days.  The Teotitecos believe the time to let loose is after Easter Sunday.  Each of the five districts in the pueblo will host a daily festival that begins around 3 p.m. Oaxaca time.  If you come, look for the big red and blue striped fiesta tent that will cover the patio of the host home.

 

Oaxaca Photography Workshops offer cultural immersion, too.

We were told the festivities start in the municipal plaza at 5:00 p.m. Teotitlan time.  This can be very confusing since Oaxaca city goes on daylight savings time but in Teotitlan time never changes.  So, Oaxaca time is one hour later than Teotitlan time.  I have found it is important to clarify an appointment hour by asking: Oaxaca time or Teotitlan time?  Otherwise, you run the risk of being too early or too late.  The ancient Zapotecs believed that whomever controlled time controlled the world.  They adopted this from the Mayan concept of time. They were right!

 

My friend Merry Foss and I arrived in the plaza at 5:15 p.m. to find it empty.  The benefit was that we got a prime seat at the top of the steep stairway that was once the foundation of the ancient Zapotec temple.  We had a vantage point high above the plaza.  Soon, the abuelas with their grandchildren arrived and filled in the seats around us.  Merry had a conversation with the woman next to us who was wearing a traditional 20-year-old silk rebozo with an extraordinary hand-tied punta (fringe).  The discussion focused on the merits of weaving and wearing rebozos in cotton, silk or art silk/rayon, and how well they drape.  It was a good way to pass the time.

 

By 7:00 p.m. Teotitlan time, Carnival was in full-swing.  Vendors selling bags of potato chips seasoned with salsa and fresh-squeezed lime juice made their way through the crowd. Ringing the plaza were street vendors whose carts were filled with cakes, cookies, churros, cream cones, nieves with fruit flavors like tuna and limon, corn cobs on a stick smeared with mayonnaise and sprinkled with chili, and aguas de sandia or horchata or lemonade.

Nearly the entire village was present represented by all the generations.  The ceremonial aspects include honoring the village leaders who volunteer for one to three-years to keep the services operating.  They sit in prominent reserved seats.  The volunteer police force are present in new green manta cotton shirts and symbolic clubs.  They are watchful that every one behaves themselves.

 

The band tonight was in fine form and the music was definitely perfect for toe-tapping from the bleachers.

 

Oaxaca Photography Workshops offer cultural immersion, too.