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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
The Virgin of Guadalupe: Goddess of the People
The Virgin of Guadalupe, the embodiment of the Virgin Mary, appeared to an indigenous Mexican ten years after the conquest in 1531. Juan Diego, his baptized name, told the bishop that the Virgin asked that a temple be built in her honor. The bishop asked for a sign of proof and Juan Diego returned with roses, until then unknown in Mexico, and his cloak transformed into the image we know today. The cloth below is believed to be Juan Diego’s cloak.
During our too brief stop at the Basilica of Guadalupe (more than an hour is needed to do the site justice), I was struck by how The Virgin of Guadalupe is really the People’s Goddess. We were here on a pilgrimage day. Indigenous people in native dress came from all parts of Mexico and gathered in the new basilica. Those that didn’t fit spilled out onto the huge plaza that can accommodate 50,000 people. They carried baby Jesus figures to be blessed by the priest in preparation for Christmas. They held images of the Virgin, wore flowered hats, carried standards and placards, sat quietly in spiritual reflection embracing the crucifix.
The Aztecs venerated Mother Earth, known as Tonantzin or Xochiquetzal. This basilica is built atop an Aztec temple to honor Mother Earth. The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered to be the first Mexican symbol that syncretized the Aztec and Catholic religious systems.
In 1531, the Spanish Inquisition was raging in Mexico. Those who did not embrace the new religion were in peril of losing their lives. By accepting the Virgin of Guadalupe, which successfully blends the Virgin Mary with Mother Earth, indigenous people ensured that they could embrace Catholicism without sacrificing their native traditions and practices. Perhaps Juan Diego was an insightful philosopher who understood what needed to be done for cultural preservation. Today Guadalupanismo has become a faith that many consider to be stronger than the Catholic church in Mexico.
The armies of Miguel Hidalgo took the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe for the Mexican indigenous peasants to embrace with the cry for independence.
The portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe is rife with symbolism. She wears a cloak that evokes the moon, the symbol of fertility, and includes a flower with four petals on her belly that represent the four cardinal points. The folds of the cloak show she is pregnant. Other symbols in the painting incorporate ancient pre-Hispanic traditions which you can read about by clicking the link above.
The Basilica is the second most visited Catholic site outside the Vatican. Over seven million people visit during Christmas week. I wish I had more time there to experience the prayerful reverence of the people. Next time!
You may know that Mexico City is sinking. It is built atop landfill that covers a lake bed. The 1706 Basilica is sinking and leaning, though it is undergoing reclamation. The new Basilica, built in 1976, is supposedly sink-proof!
Come with us on a Street Photography adventure in January 2013.