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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
Dance of the Little Old Men–Baile de Viejitos, Oaxaca
After a spectacular week of Semana Santa celebrations in Teotitlan del Valle, the village gathers for yet another tribute. Dance of the Little Old Men, or Baile de Viejitos, begins on the Monday after Easter Sunday and goes for five continuous days. It is an ancient pre-Hispanic Zapotec ritual centered around the way the community is organized and how well the voluntary leaders mete out justice and fairness. The village leaders are assessed by each one of the five administrative sections of the village through an intricate process of information gathering, question asking, and feedback.
Each section has an opportunity to give feedback to the leaders through the men selected by each section to speak for them. The men are dressed in disguise as elders, wise, strong, able to take a stand and tell the truth. It is a power-leveling mechanism that is designed to humble the arrogant.
Some call it Carnivale, like the pre-Lenten celebration, because there are masquerades and cross-dressing. To the uninitiated, it looks like a springtime version of Halloween with costumed, dancing young boys. They join the official masquers who accompany the Old Men as they act out their message through the dance and the tribute they pay to the leaders. It is ceremonial and formal.
And, it is fun. There is excitement in the air. The village gathers on stone steps that were once the foundation of a Zapotec temple. The Municipio Building is ringed with folding chairs and behind them, vendors selling fresh-made fruit-flavored ices, cones stuffed with cream, do-nuts, and other sweets. Another vendor sells steaming tamales seasoned with chipil. Parents buy bags of 5 peso popcorn for children to munch on.
The dance starts at 6 p.m. and goes well into the night. All the leaders, starting with the president, dance in succession with the Viejitos representing the section. The section representatives sit solemnly after they have presented their tribute — cartons of beer and mezcal. Each section takes their turn — one section for each night.