One-Day Textile Tour to Oaxaca’s Mixe: Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

Thursday, July 20, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.– on the road to Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

We’ll get an early start at 8:00 a.m. and drive into the mountains of the Mixe pueblo of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec deep into the folds of Oaxaca’s Sierra Madre mountain range. Tlahui, which we call it here, is located 70 miles east of the capital city. With its microclimates, this landscape resembles a rainforest. We’ll pass through Ayutla, the Mixe head district on our way. This town has a rich tradition of making musical instruments, textiles and pottery. In this region of the Sierra Norte, there are about 140,000 Mixe speakers, an indigenous unwritten tonal language unique to the area.

We have selected the best weavers and embroiderers from the village to visit. They specialize in making cloth using treadle looms (a pedal loom with four-harnesses and a flying shuttle). They also use local alderwood called palo de aguila, a natural bark that produces a dye the yields rich, deep brown-orange on cotton fibers. Other dye materials they incorporate into stunning dresses, blouses, shawls and ponchos include cochineal, indigo and wild marigold. This group of weavers has won national prizes for the quality of their designs and workmanship.

Want a longer tour? Add the one-day excursion to San Pedro Cajonos on July 20, and consider adding on any of our other day trips and workshops. We will recommend lodging.

Here, we will also discuss the meanings of the embroidered designs and the very important topic of cultural appropriation. The village was involved in a 2015 dispute with a French brand that copied verbatum traditional designs that have been part of the village’s cultural patrimony for centuries.

Our final stop in Tlahuitoltepec will be to a visit with a master potter who specializes in large format clay musicians that represent his community’s musical tradition. In his studio, we will learn about his work and see the open pit kilns.

For this textile and pottery adventure, we welcome everyone interested in learning about the indigenous Mixe traditions, a full day of exploration and shopping for very special handmade pieces.

This is a full day of travel in a comfortable van. We will depart at 8:00 a.m. and return by 7:00 pm. from/to the same location in Oaxaca Centro. We will announce the group meeting location closer to the date of the tour. Group size is limited to 14 people.

Your Oaxaca Cultural Navigator Expert is Eric Chavez Santiago. Eric Chavez Santiago is an expert in Oaxaca and Mexican textiles and folk art with a special interest in artisan development and promotion. He is a weaver and natural dyer by training and a fourth generation member of the Fe y Lola textile group. He and his wife Elsa started Taller Teñido a Mano dye studio where they produce naturally dyed yarn skeins and textiles for worldwide distribution. Eric is a business partner with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, too. He is trilingual, speaking Zapotec, Spanish and English and is a native of Teotitlan del Valle. He is a graduate of Anahuac University, founder of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca education department, and former managing director of folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular. He has intimate knowledge of local traditions, culture and community, and has deep personal relationships with indigenous artisans throughout Oaxaca and Mexico.

Climate and what to wear to be comfortable: We go high into the misty mountains where it can be overcast and breezy, with drizzle or rain. Please bring a rain jacket, umbrella, wear comfortable walking boots and a hat.

Cost: This one-day tour includes transportation in a luxury van, a home-cooked traditional lunch, complete guide services with translation, textile and cultural interpretation, and commentary. The cost is $295 per person.

Reservations and Cancellations

We require a non-refundable 25% deposit of $73.75 per person to secure your registration. We offer you three (3) ways to pay the deposit: 1) Zelle transfer with NO SERVICE FEE, 2) PayPal and add a 3% service fee, 3) VENMO and add a 3% service fee. Please tell us which payment method you prefer and we will send a request for funds. The 75% balance of $221.25 per person is due on the day of the tour in cash, either USD or MXN pesos (at the current exchange rate). When we receive funds, we will send you confirmation and details. 

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