Monthly Archives: September 2020

Back to Textiles: Amusgo Weaving, Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero

So-Chees-Lah-Hwa-Kah. I spell it out in transliteration so you can say it more easily. Short hand is So-Chee!

I took the last two weeks off from writing and blogging to take a road trip to the Midwest where I visited friends in South Bend, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio. It was a welcome diversion from routine. While on the road, I was in touch with Yecenia (Yesi) Lopez after contacting her earlier about selecting some of her Tejadoras de Llanura de las Flores Cooperative’s beautiful textiles for us to see and purchase. I made the order from South Bend and when I returned to Durham yesterday, the box was there waiting for me at the front door.

Sale Starts: Saturday, October 3, 2020, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Preview of Xochistlahuaca textiles

About Amusgos Textiles

There are 17 garments total. Some are natural dyes. Some are native green, white and coyuchi (honey colored) cotton grown in the village on small farm plots. There is one scarf. Most are blusas and there are a few long huipiles. Even as we are approaching winter, these make beautiful, colorful tops to layer over a long-sleeve silk T-shirt to wear with leggings, pants, jeans or a skirt.

The Amusgo people are an indigenous group with their own distinct language who live north and south along the Oaxaca-Guerrero border. The closest town to Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero is Ometepec. It is more than five hours north of Puerto Escondido and is considered part of the Costa Chica region that extends to just south of Acapulco.

This is a traditional gala Xochistlahuaca huipil
Maximina picks native green cotton from her fields

About Tejadoras de Llanura de las Flores, from Yesi Lopez de Jesus

“We are a group of women from the municipality of Xochistlahuaca, the original community where the Amusgos people live. We decided to work in a group that we named the Cooperativa Llanura de las Flores — Plain of Flowers — which is the meaning of the name of our Suljaa people in our indigenous language. This is what Xochistlahuaca means in Amusgo: Plain of Flowers.

“We learned to weave and spin thread from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. Weaving is learned and transmitted from generation to generation. Now, we understand that with threads we create art. In each textile that we make, there is a piece of us, our time, our knowledge, patience, love and part of our life.

“It is necessary to work in a cooperative to help each other out as women, to contribute to the economic well-being of our household, to feed, educate and provide healthcare for our children and our families.

“The textile, the huipil, everything we create with the threads and our imagination, is not only a piece for sale or simple merchandise. Our creations are living pieces in which we capture part of our daily life. We weave the iconography of our Plain of Flowers.

“This is why we think that as a cooperative we can continue working and sharing with the younger generations so that this ancient knowledge is never lost.

“We are 25 women who continue to weave, fighting for life, defending the loom and native cotton.”

When you purchase one (or more) of these beautiful textiles, you are bringing the heart and soul of the weaver and her family into your home and heart. Not only do you add beauty to your own life, you are supporting the history of back-strap loom weaving in Mexico and giving women an opportunity to earn a fair wage from their work. You provide sustenance and continuity. You provide hope and courage. You provide value and meaning.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 3 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time for our shop to open here at https://oaxacaculture.com

What do we call them? Huipiles. Not Caftans!

In addition to cultural appropriation, there is a debate raging about what to call the hand-woven, back-strap loomed garments from Mexico that many of us know as huipiles. This is plural. The singular is huipil. (Some huipiles for sale below!)

How do you say it?

Whee-peel.

(or What do you do with a banana? We peel. — Thank you, Mary Randall)

Whee-peel-ess.

Caftan (kaftan) or tunic is a misnomer. I am reminded of this via a text message this morning from Ana Paula Fuentes, who introduced me to Las Sanjuaneras some years ago and was the founding director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. I promised her that you and I would have a discussion about Mexican clothing as a way to spread the word about culture.

I just want to set the record straight that I called these garments thus because it is what the American and Canadian marketplace knows and understands as a fashion definition. We’ve been acculturated since the 60’s when these garments came to us from Europe and North Africa and Asia as casual wear, beach and pool wear, loungewear. Now, with Covid-19, the idea is being reintroduced to the world of contemporary clothing as a perfect solution to comfort while we are homebound.

Let’s have the conversation: Clothing origins from Mexico deserve to be called by their true name. Huipil. Bluson. Blusa. Rebozo. Quechquemitl. Etc. And, we can spread the word about the quality of Mexico’s indigenous weaving by using the true name of the garment. People need to know these are huipiles. Not caftans or tunics.

Bluson: A short, cropped flowing version of a huipil, usually waist-length or hip-length.

Blusa: A blouse, more fitted than free-form; a universal term.

Rebozo: A shawl whose origins are from the Philippines via Spain.

Quechquemitl: A triangular pull-over shawl, scarf, cover-up that is pre-Hispanic and the first indigenous garment.

So, help us out here. When you wear one of these garments, call it a Huipil. Together, we can be influencers and talk about Mexico as being a fashion innovator rather than a follower of Euro-centric style. You give value to the weavers this way, too. Thank you.

Still some beauties from Las Sanjuaneras For Sale

#10. Andrea. Bluson. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#2. Camerina. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide. $285. 34-1/2×34. $285.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Blusa. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #16. Patrocinia. Bluson. Indigo, native cotton, $195.
#24. Aurora. Bluson. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Huipil. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395
#20. Andrea. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.
#21. Margarita. Blusa. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood, 22-3/4×35. $165.

Shop Open: Las Sanjuaneras Textiles Huipiles, Kaftans, Tunics

Call them huipiles, kaftans, tunics or ponchos. Whatever you call them, call them comfortable, cozy, casual cover-ups. Perfect for lounging or working from home. Perfect for a socially distant safe get-together. Perfect for feeling good in times of Covid-19 and related stress. We are looking for beauty in our lives now especially, and this is one way to attain it.

SOLD. #1. Margarita. 34×43. marigold, iron oxide, indigo. $375.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

There are 27 pieces I’m offering in this collection today. Some are gauzy, light as a feather hand weaves. Some are mid-weight. Some can be used as a poncho. Others are long, short, wide, narrow or cropped. Some are size large and extra-large. Others are small and will fit the petite among us. Please scroll through and make your selection carefully. All sales are final because I will have already paid the weavers by the time I mail them.

Las Sanjuaneras weaver. Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

100% natural dyes on native, hand-spun cotton, woven on the back strap loom, with slubs and imperfect beauty

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

#20. Andrea. Marigold, iron oxide, native cotton. 22-3/4×30. $195.

Note: All measurements are in inches. Width is across the front (one side). Please double for circumference. Length is shoulder to hem. Most necks have a 7-8″ opening from shoulder to V.

First come. First served. First email in gets first choice.

SOLD. #4. Delfina. Marigold, mahogany. 34-1/2×38. $365.
SOLD. #11. Margarita. 21×34. Marigold, nanche. $185.
SOLD. #5. Cleotilde. Indigo, mahogany. 38×45. $395.
SOLD. #6. Andrea. Oak, indigo gauze. 35×44. $395.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

#A. Camerina. Guava, iron oxide, indigo. 34-1/2w x 34L. $285.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #12. Catalina. Superfine indigo, native cotton. 38×43. $395.
#7. Maria Lucia. 40×40. Indigo, iron oxide, beet, nanche. $395.
SOLD. #8. Andrea. 33×42. Guava, indigo, almond, gauze. $360.

This is the last sale from Las Sanjuaneras for a while. I’m going on a road trip to the Midwest on Tuesday and won’t return until October.

You may purchase until Monday morning. I will be doing the last mailing on Monday. Please don’t wait to decide! As you know, we sold out FAST on the last two shipments from this cooperative.

SOLD. #9. Patrocinia. 37-1/2×42. Indigo, marigold. $295.
#B. Camerina. Indigo, mahogany, banana. 30w x 33L. $225
SOLD. #C. Andrea. Oak, marigold, indigo, natural. 33w x 29L. $265.
#10. Andrea. Marigold, chocolatillo. 35-1/2×24. $295.
SOLD. #13. Brisaida. 31×23. Beet, mahogany, indigo, iron oxide. $295.

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! so I don’t pay commissions. We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #14. Patrocinia. 39×28. Indigo, mahogany. Gauze. $295.
SOLD #15. Andrea. 33×28. Indigo, marigold, mahogany, natural gauze. $295.

Read about the Las Sanjuaneras Cooperative here!

Textile Care: Dry clean or wash by hand. To wash, turn garment inside out. Immerse in cold water using a mild soap such as Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Don’t use Woolite — it leeches color. Gently massage the cloth. Squeeze and roll in a towel to absorb excess water. Hang to dry. Use medium heat to iron if needed.

#16. Patrocinia. 38×25. Indigo and native cotton. $195.
#18. Aurora. 19×28. Nanche, mahogany, almond, beet. $195.
SOLD. #19. 21×23. banana, almond, indigo, mahogany, brazilwood. $195.

Return Policy: We support artisans and funds get transferred immediately. There are no returns or refunds. This is a final sale.

#21 Margarita. Marigold, iron oxide, beet, brazilwood. 22-3/4×35. $165.
SOLD. #22. Camerina. 20-1/2×26-1/2. marigold, mahogany. $165
SOLD. #17. Aurora. 21×23. indigo, banana, iron oxide. $195.
SOLD. #23. Andrea. indigo, brazilwood, oak, beet, indigo. 32×26. $295.
#24. Aurora. Beet, mahogany, nanche, almond, iron oxide. 38×22. $295.
SOLD. #3. Delfina. Iron oxide, indigo, natural. 34×32. $295
SOLD. #2. Brisaida. Beet, indigo, natural, 31-1/2×37. $325

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

Encore! San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca, Textile Sale Notice

This will be the last sale from this cooperative for a while. Perhaps until Christmas. I’m not sure. In fact, no more sales until mid-October when I will have more blouses coming from Chiapas and a few more rugs from Oaxaca.

Shop Opens Friday, September 11, 12 Noon ET

The texture of hand weaving — from dense to gauzy!

Tomorrow, Friday, September 11, I will have 20+ pieces for sale from the Las Sanjuaneras cooperative in San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca. We sold out the prior two-shipments in one day. So, get this on your calendar!

This coming Tuesday, I’m taking a break from the blog, from masks, from textiles, but not from Covid-19! I’ll be driving to Ohio and Indiana to visit dear friends — playing it safe on the road with mask, face shield, gloves (for gas stations and toilets), and plenty of hand sanitizer and alcohol spray. I likely won’t be back online until sometime in October.

Kaftans or Huipiles???

Fashionistas are telling us that in this Covid-19 era, we are opting for comfortable, free-flowing clothing that we can wear casually — for social distancing get-togethers, working from home or for lounging around. Lounge-wear is in, they say.

Designers are calling this clothing kaftans or tunics. Most likely because this is a style/name most American women are familiar with. Many designers, like those working with indigenous groups in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico, have appropriated centuries-old textile iconography, branded the pieces under their own label, and are calling what they are selling kaftans or tunics instead of huipiles. Sometimes the woven cloth is cut up and incorporated into a design, something the artisan-makers don’t agree with. The prices can be in the stratosphere. Quadruple what you may find here. We call this cultural appropriation — a human rights issue, I think.

What is a kaftan?

What is a huipil?

What is a tunic?

All natural dyes: beets, mahogany bark, indigo, wild marigold, natural native cotton

My goal is to support a few women artisan weavers who live in remote, inaccessible areas, and who do not have an on-line sales presence. My goal is to sell to people who appreciate the hand-work involved and the time to take a garment from thread to finished piece using the back-strap loom, which is time consuming. My goal is to send funds directly to the artisans so they get paid immediately. I pay them when something sells so your purchase has direct benefit. I pay for shipping in advance so they have no out-of-pocket expenses. So, artisans and I have upfront risk to bring these treasures to you.

We appreciate your generosity and trust!

Why and How Long?

I’m not certain how long I will continue to do this, or if I continue, how frequently I will bring the pieces to the USA. Mostly, it depends on when I return to Oaxaca. It will be more difficult to receive and mail them to you from there. I’m thinking of going back this winter, but this is just a loose confederation of thoughts for now.

One example of 20 pieces we will showcase on September 11

I do this because I can’t think of any better way to directly help the weaving cooperatives I know and who we visit during our textile tours. Since the tours have been suspended for the foreseeable future, I think this is one of the few ways to continuing to give indigenous women a livelihood and purpose. It also helps to keep me focused and purposeful during these times when it is easy to binge-watch a favorite TV show or movie, to bake and eat, to stay in bed longer than I should!

In crisis, there is re-invention, adaptation and evolution. This is what I’m telling myself these days!

Thanks always for your caring, love and support for Oaxaca, for Mexico and her artisans. Con abrazos fuertes,

Norma

Take 20% OFF San Mateo del Mar Textiles

These are the last four pieces from yesterday’s sale. I’m getting ready to send funds to the weavers in Oaxaca. I’d like to be able to say, We sold out, and send them 100% of the funds. Can you help get us over the top, help the weavers and have something beautiful to wear?

To Buy: Please email me normahawthorne@mac.com with your name, mailing address and item number. I will mark it SOLD, send you a PayPal link to purchase and add $12 for cost of mailing. Please be sure to select Send Money to Family and Friends! We also accept Venmo and I can send you a Square invoice (+3% fee) if you don’t use PayPal.

SOLD. #1. Soft, finely woven cotton. 29″W x 27″ Long. Was $335. Now $268.
#1 Detail
#2 Poncho. 37″W x 31″ Long. Was $450. Now $360.

The poncho is 100% cotton woven on the back-strap loom. A perfect weight to transition from to autumn and winter and back again to spring. For comfy wrapping to take the chill off. Pullover. One size fits most.

Poncho inside finish work.
#3. Dress. Fine cotton with indigo. 25Wx48L. Was $675. Now $540.

A beautifully woven full-length dress with whimsical designs woven into the fabric (called bordado): fish, sea creatures, deer — reflecting the flora and fauna of the region.

Detail #3
SOLD. #4 Black with shades of purple. 25Wx27L. Was $250. Now $200.

All sales are final. I am sorry, we do not accept returns. Funds go directly to the weavers to support their families and life’s work.