By Tuesday after the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market ended, most friends returned home or continued with travels. Market weekend was HOT, over 100 degrees fahrenheit with no rain, unusual for July when afternoon thunderstorms usually cool things off, they say. There’s no air conditioning here, my local friends remind me. Adobe, shade and water are the natural coolants.
The high New Mexico desert is beautiful, austere, the color of salmon, sand, sage and terra-cotta. Only the cloudless blue sky, jagged mountains and cottonwood banking the rivers give relief to the landscape.
It is big country with expansive mesas and tumbleweed. Still the wild west with scattered oases.
I drive an hour and a half north across Native American pueblo land — Santa Clara, Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso — climbing up through a mountain pass along the Rio Grande River Gorge to Taos to visit friends.
Beneath the mountain, under a cloudless sky, I see dust dancing in the distance, a funnel cloud likeness of Kokopelli blowing his flute.
Despite the heat, it is easy to love it here, the mix of silver, turquoise, coral, casinos, fry bread, corn, indigenous pride and creativity, ripe nectarines and peaches — prolific local bounty. This is more than an enclave for opera and art aficionados.
The Taos Pueblo looks much like it did forty years ago when I first visited and felt drawn by the region’s history and her native peoples.
There are a few more tourist shops, but the pueblo is otherwise untouched except by bus loads of visitors who come in early morning to avoid the sun.
It’s not difficult to make the comparison between Mexico and New Mexico both visually and culturally. Spanish is a primary language here, and roots go deep into colonizer oppression and conversion (read about the 1680 Pueblo Revolt).
From history, we know that political boundaries do not define the origins of people (think Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala).
Descendants of Mexican landholders subsumed into U.S. territory in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase populate Nuevo Mexico.
Many of my New Mexico friends are equally at home in Oaxaca, and it is easy to see why.
Just like Oaxaca, I love the colors and textures here, the traditions of the native people, their art and creativity. The synergy between these two places is strong and as I drive through the country, I have this feeling of peace and deep history.
At this moment, I’m in Huntington Beach, California, with my son Jacob. The ocean breezes bring chill to the air, even though days are warm. It’s great to be back in the land of my growing up and connect with family for more than a few days.
Chatino Textiles from Oaxaca at Santa Fe Trunk Show
The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market runs from Friday night to Sunday afternoon the second weekend of July each year. Festivities start days in advance with galleries and retail shops all over town featuring artisan trunk shows from various parts of the world. (Mark your 2017 calendar for July 14, 15, 16)
La Chatina! Vintage blouses, embroidered + crocheted. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.
Barbara Cleaver brought a collection of vintage Chatino blouses to La Boheme clothing gallery on Canyon Road, and anyone with a connection to Oaxaca showed up to see what was in store.
Cross-stitch Chatina blouse detail. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.
Barbara, with her husband Robin, run the Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido, and are long-time residents of both Santa Fe and Oaxaca. The coffee farm they manage is not far from the Chatino villages near the famed pilgrimage site of Juquila.
Chatino people have close language and cultural ties to the Zapotec villages of the Oaxaca valley. Their mountain region is rich in natural resources and many work on the organic coffee farms that are an economic mainstay. About 45,000 people speak Chatino. Hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects are still spoken in Oaxaca, which make it culturally rich and diverse. This is reflected in the textiles!
Barbara has personal relationships with the women embroiderers of the region and what she brought to show was the real deal!
Chatina woman wears extraordinary embroidered blouse. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.
The blouses are densely embroidered with crocheted trim. The older pieces are fashioned with cotton threads and the needlework is very fine. Newer pieces reflect changing times and tastes, and include polyester yarns that often have shiny, gold, silver and colored tinsel thread.
We see this trend in other parts of Mexico, too, including the more traditional villages of Chiapas where conservative women love to wear flash!
The shoulder bag — called a morral — is hand-woven and hand-tied (like macrame), and equally as stunning.
Fine example of Chatino bag from Barbara Cleaver
A follow-up note from Barbara Cleaver about the bag:
Underside of knotted and embroidered Chatino bag, from Barbara Cleaver
To enquire about purchasing any of Barbara Cleaver’s Chatino clothing and accessories, please contact her at Mexantique@aol.com
Chatino shoulder bag, called a morral. Photo by Karen Elwell.
Karen Elwell, whose Flickr site documents Oaxaca textiles, says that the flowers and birds border (above) are machine stitched and the parrots and flowers (below) are hand-knotted from the warp threads of the woven bags. (See Barbara Cleaver’s more exact explanation above.)
Barbara has many examples of these. I was just too busy looking to take good photos!
Invitation to La Boheme trunk show, pre-Folk Art Market.
Posted in Clothing Design, Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving
Tagged Barbara Cleaver, blouses, Chatino, clothing, design, Embroidery, folk art, handwoven, International Folk Art Market, La Boheme, Mexico, Oaxaca, Santa Fe, shoulder bags, textiles, weaving