As I wrote yesterday for the Day 1: Mixed (Shopping) Bag: Oaxaca + Chiapas Textiles, I purchased a lot of beautiful handwoven, handspun 100% cotton blouses and huipiles when we were on the Oaxaca Coast and Chiapas Highlands. Most are naturally dyed, some with the rare caracol purpura purple snail dye. There are still many extraordinary pieces available from yesterday. Plus, today features more. We hope you will find something that says, Welcome Spring!
Meanwhile, enjoy the spring holidays. Despite all the alarming news about conflict and climate change, there is a lot to be grateful for. Let’s keep Ukraine in our hearts and minds, and make a donation to support all those displaced from this conflict in honor of freedom and democracy in this season of celebration. To life!
For this sale, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC will donate 5% of all sales to HIAS, an international refugee relief program, for support of Ukraine refugees regardless of religious affiliation and in support of Ukraine and refugees from the Americas amassed at the Mexico-USA border waiting for entry.
How to Buy: mailto:email@example.com Tell us the item you want by number. Send your complete mailing address.Tell us how you want to pay (3 choices, below). We accept three payment methods:
Zelle bank transfer with no service fee.
Venmo with a 3% service fee.
PayPal with a 3% service fee.
When you tell us by email that you are ready to order and have made your selections by Item Number, you will also tell us your payment preference. We will then confirm your order, mark your item sold, send you totals and our Zelle account information. For Venmo or PayPal, we will send you a request for payment that includes a 3% service fee.
Note: We add on $13 for the mailing fee to your total order.
SOLD #26. From Pinotepa de Don Luis, handspun cotton dyed with rare caracol purpura purple snail. Use as scarf, wall hangin or table runner, or make into a dress. 23” wide x 68” long. $95
At Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, we aim to give you an unparalleled and in-depth travel experience to participate and delve deeply into indigenous culture, folk art and celebrations. The Maya World of Chiapas, Mexico, spans centuries and borders. Maya people weave their complex universe into beautiful cloth. Symbols are part of an ancient pre-Hispanic animist belief system. In the cloth we see frogs that signal coming rain, the plumed serpent, woman and man and family, earth and sky, the four cardinal points, moon and sun and stars, birds, flowers, symbols of the natural environment. Each weaver chooses her themes based on what is important to her.
We go deep into the Mayan world of southern Mexico, from February 21 to March 1, 2023. While we focus on textiles, we also explore what it means to be indigenous, part of a cooperative, live in a remote village, have agency and access to economic opportunity. We meet creative, innovative and talented people who open their doors and welcome us.
Our dates of February 21 to March 1, 2023, are reserved in a fine historic hotel close to the pedestrian walking streets and the plaza.
8 nights, 9 days in and around the San Cristobal de Las Casas highlands.
Cost • $3,195 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $3,895 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
We are based in the historic Chiapas mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas, the center of the Maya world in Mexico. Here we will explore the textile traditions of ancient people who weave on back strap looms. Women made cloth on simple looms here long before the Spanish conquest in 1521 and their techniques translate into stunning garments admired and collected throughout the world today. Colorful. Vibrant. Warm. Exotic. Connecting. Words that hardly describe the experience that awaits you.
We are committed to giving you a rich cultural immersion experience that goes deep rather than broad. We cover a lot of territory. That is why we are spending eight nights in this amazing Pueblo Magico — Magic Town — to focus on Maya textiles, weaving and embroidery traditions.
Our cultural journey takes us into villages, homes and workshops to meet the people who keep their traditions vibrant. We explore museums, churches, and ancient cemeteries. This is an interpersonal experience to better know and appreciate Mexico’s amazing artisans.
Your Study Tour Leader is Eric Chavez Santiago. Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC founder, will also accompany the group.
Norma Schafer is a retired university administrator and founder of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. She has lived with the Chavez Santiago family in Teotitlan del Valle since 2005, and also lives in Taos, New Mexico. In 2006, Norma started offering textile weaving and natural dyeing workshops, and cultural and textile study tours, concentrating on Oaxaca and Chiapas. She is a contributor to the textile guidebook, Textile Fiestas of Mexico, has been featured in The New York Times, and has published articles in the international Selvedge Magazine and literary magazines. She writes the blog Oaxaca Cultural Navigator about life and art in Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico.
Eric Chavez Santiago is a weaver and natural dye expert. He is a Oaxaca native, born and raised in Teotitlan del Valle, and speaks Zapotec, Spanish and English. Eric was the founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca from 2008 to 2016. In 2017, Alfredo Harp Helu and Isabel Granen Porrua asked him to open, manage and promote indigenous craft through their folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular. He resigned in September this year to grow the family enterprise, Taller Teñido a Mano, and to join Norma as a partner in Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. Eric is a graduate of Anahuac University and has made textile presentations throughout the world. He is knowledgeable about Chiapas textiles and techniques.
We also travel with a local historian who was born and raised in Chiapas. She is our compass to discern meaning.
Take this study tour to learn about:
culture, history and identity of cloth
cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation
wool spinning and weaving
clothing design and construction
embroidery and supplementary (pick-up) weft
Maya textile designs — iconography and significance
village and individual identity through clothing
social justice, opportunities and women’s issues
market days and mercantile economy
local cuisine, coffee, cacao and chocolate
quality and value
We work with one of San Cristobal’s best bilingual cultural guides who has worked with weavers and artisans in the region. Gabriela is a native Chiapaneca who knows the region. You will enjoy learning from her.
We will travel in a comfortable van as we go deep into the Maya world. We promise a sanitized van and all necessary precautions during our visits.
We visit 7 Maya weaving villages
We enjoy home-cooked meals
We meet makers and directly support them
We go far and away, off-the-beaten path
We decode the weaving designs unique to each woman and village
We explore three towns on their market days
We understand the sacred, mysterious rituals of Maya beliefs
Villages we visit: Tenejapa, San Lorenzo Zinacantan, San Juan Chamula, San Andres Larrainzar, Magdalena Aldama, Chenalho
Who Should Attend Anyone who loves cloth, culture, and collaboration • Textile and fashion designers • Weavers, embroiderers and collectors • Photographers and artists who want inspiration • Resellers
Tuesday, February 21: Travel day. Arrive and meet at our hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas. You will receive directions to get from the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport to our hotel. The airport is a clean and modern facility with straightforward signage. You will book your flight to Tuxtla from Mexico City on either Interjet, AeroMar, Volaris or Aeromexico. To find best routes and rates, search Skyscanner.com There are plenty of taxis and shuttle services to take you there. Your cost of transportation to/from San Cristobal is on your own. Taxis are about $55 USD or 800 pesos. Shared shuttle is 180 pesos or about $10 USD.
Wednesday, February 22: On our first day in San Cristobal de las Casas, we orient you to the textiles of the Maya World. You will learn about weaving and embroidery traditions, patterns and symbols, women and villages, history and culture. After a breakfast discussion, we will visit Centro Textiles Mundo Maya museum, Sna Jolobil Museum Shop for fine regional textiles, meander the Santo Domingo outdoor market that takes over the plaza in front of the church, and visit two outstanding textile shops. We guide you along the walking streets to get your bearings. We finish the morning together with a Group Welcome Lunch. (B, L)
Thursday, February 23: Tenejapa is about an hour and a world away from San Cristobal de Las Casas. Today is market day when villagers line the streets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and household supplies. Peer into dimly lit doorways to find hidden textile treasures. We’ll meander the market to see what’s there. In years past, I’ve found some stunning shawls, huipils and bags. Keep your eyes open. Then, we will visit an outstanding textile cooperative and then the best pom pom maker in the region. After a box lunch at the centuries- old Romerillo Maya cemetery, we continue on up another mountain to visit Maruch (Maria), a Chamula woman at her rural home. Surrounded by sheep and goats, Maruch will demonstrate back strap loom weaving and wool carding, and how she makes long-haired wool skirts, tunics and shawls. Perhaps there will be some treasures to consider. Return to San Cristobal de Las Casas in time for dinner on your own. (B, L)
Friday, February 24: After breakfast, we set out for Na Bolom, Jaguar House, the home of anthropologist Franz Blom and his photographer wife, Gertrude Duby Blom. The house is now a museum filled with pre-Hispanic folk art and jewelry. We walk the gardens and learn about Franz and Trudy’s work with the Lacandon tribe and their relationship with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. After hot chocolate there we go to the outskirts of town to an outstanding women’s weaving cooperative that was founded over 40 years ago. You will learn about international collaborations and textile design that conserves traditions while meeting marketplace needs for exquisite and utilitarian cloth. After lunch on your own, we meet in the early evening to visit Museo de Trajes Regionales and humanitarian healer Sergio Castro, who has a large private collection of Maya indigenous daily and ceremonial dress representing each Chiapas region. (B)
Saturday, February 25: We set out by foot to a nearby textile studio founded by Alberto Lopez Gomez, a Magdalena Aldama weaver and designer, who was invited to New York Fashion Week in 2020 and Sweden Design Week in 2022 We hear presentations about creativity, style, innovation, and how to incorporate tradition while breaking new ground. Then, we climb on the van for the 45-minute ride to Chenalho where women combine back strap loom weaving and embroidery to make distinctive huipiles. We meet with an artisan cooperative who host us for demonstrations and lunch. (B, L) Evening on your own.
Sunday, February 26: This is a big day! First we go to San Lorenzo Zinacantan, where greenhouses cover the hillsides. Here, indigenous dress is embellished in exquisite floral designs, mimicking the flowers they grow. First we meander the open-air market, then visit the church, bedecked in fresh flowers. Next stop is magical, mystical San Juan Chamula where the once-Catholic church is given over to a pre-Hispanic pagan religious practice that involves chickens, eggs and coca-cola. You’ll find out why. We’ll roam Chamula’s abundant textile market, compare and contrast fabrics and designs. (B, L) Dinner on your own.
Monday, February 27: Today, we make a study tour to the textile villages of San Andres Larrainzer and Magdalena Aldama. This is another ultimate cultural experience to immerse yourself into families of weavers in their humble homes. We will see how they weave and embroider beautiful, fine textiles, ones you cannot find in the city markets or shops. They will host a show and sale for us, and we will join them around the open hearth for a warming meal of free range chicken soup, house made tortillas, and of course, a sip of posh! (B, L)
Tuesday, February 28: This is expoventa day! We have invited one of the finest embroiderers of Aguacatenango blouses, an organic coffee grower/roaster, and a pottery artisan to show and sell their work. Afternoon is on your own to do last minute shopping and packing in preparation for your trip home. We end our study tour with a Regret’s Sale (just in case you have any) and a gala group goodbye dinner. (B, D)
Wednesday, March 1. Depart. You will arrange your own transportation from San Cristobal to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. The hotel guest services can help. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to get to Tuxtla, plus 1-2 hours for check-in. Connect from Tuxtla to Mexico City and then on to your home country.
What Is Included
• 8 nights lodging at a top-rated San Cristobal de las Casas hotel within walking distance to the historic center and pedestrian streets
• 8 breakfasts • 4 lunches • 1 grand finale gala dinner
• museum and church entry fees
• luxury van transportation
• outstanding and complete guide services
The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.
Cost • $3,195 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $3,895 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
Reservations and Cancellations. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before October 1, 2022. The third 50% payment of the balance is due on or before December 1, 2022. We accept payment using online e-commerce only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 1, 2022, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before December 15, 2021, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable reservation deposit. After that, there are no refunds.
If we cancel for whatever reason, we will offer a 100% refund of all amounts received to date, less the non-refundable deposit.
All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.
NOTE: All travelers must provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19 to travel with us. You must also wear CDC-approved face masks, use hand-sanitizer, and maintain all public health precautions.
How to Register: First, complete the Registration Form and send it to us. We will then send you an invoice to make your reservation deposit.
Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: San Cristobal de las Casas is a hill-town in south central Chiapas, the Mexican state that borders Guatemala. The altitude is 7,000 feet. Streets and sidewalks are cobblestones, mostly narrow and have high curbs. Pavement stones are slippery, especially when walking across driveways that slant at steep angles across the sidewalk to the street. We will do a lot of walking. Being here is a walker’s delight because there are three flat streets devoted exclusively to walking. We walk a lot — up to 10,000 steps per day at a moderate pace. We recommend you bring a walking stick and wear sturdy shoes.
NOTE: If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the program for you.
Traveling with a small group has its advantages and also means that independent travelers will need to make accommodations to group needs and schedule. We include plenty of free time to go off on your own if you wish.
San Juan Colorado is up the mountain about an hour-and-half from Pinotepa Nacional along the Costa Chica. It’s at the end of the road, so secluded that the Spanish Conquest and proselytizing priests didn’t reach here until much later. It’s why traditional backstrap loom weaving and natural dyeing have survived over the years.
Mostly women weave here, but some men are also learning. Girls start when they are around ten years old. Native wild preHispanic cotton grows here, too — caramel colored brown, mint green, creamy white make up the palette. White thread can also be dyed red with cochineal, blue with indigo, yellow with wild marigold, brown with nuts and bark. Brazilwood turns white cotton to a fucsia hot pink. Cooking cotton in an iron pot dulls the color. White becomes a soft grey.
We visit one of the oldest cooperatives, Jini Nuu. We gather in the courtyard under the shade of an almond tree The bark is also a dye material. Yuridia and Verónica welcome us. The older women are sitting on the ground, legs tucked under them, bare toes peeking out from their posahuanco wrap-around skirts, spinning cotton with the drop spindle, picking seeds from the cotton to get ready to spin it, and weaving on the backstrap loom.
Our group sits down for lunch. We are served tamales stuff with a local specialty of mangrove mussels and another type stuffed with chicken. There is a spicy beef broth soup, tasty fruit waters, avocado, Oaxaca queso fresco, and plenty of made in the comal tortillas. We are in foodie heaven. Our desert is a shot of Piedra de Alma mezcal.
Mid-afternoon we cross the village to visit Camerina and the Las Sanjuaneras cooperative where they weave beautiful gauze fabric and work only in natural dyes. Their oldest member is age 81 and their youngest is in her 30’s. Cooperatives are important social and economic organizations, offering ways to marketi and also provide mutual support.
Designs woven into the cloth are selected by each weaver. They I clise the flora and fauna of the region. Since we are near the coast, this includes crab, turtles, ducks, birds, stars, rainbows, mountains, scorpions, pine trees, corn plants, chickens. The row of women figures holding hands depicts solidarity. Shoulder decorations of zigzag depict the Feathers of Quetzalcoatl — the serpent god. The double-headed eagle has special significance: the duality of life, ting-hangs, man-woman, fertility.
This will be the last of my 2021 sales. I leave Taos, NM on my way back to Oaxaca on Decemberr 11. This sale features some outstanding pieces from Oaxaca and Chiapas, including blusas, ponchos, quechquemitls, ruanas, scarves and shawls. Please order and purchase by December 9 so I can get your pieces in the mail by December 10 (if not before)! There are 14 pieces — be sure to scroll down to see 4 BONUS pieces of jewelry from New Mexico I have included.
As I return to Oaxxaca, I’ll be writing about covid travel safety and precautions, protecting oneself from the new omicron variant, and other related issues. Meanwhile, I want to follow-up, too, on what I’ve been writing about how to visit Oaxaca with cultural sensitivity during covid. Tourism is so important to Mexico. It makes up most of the income of the informal economy (independent artisans). We don’t want to discourage safe tourism. We do want to discuss how to be a guest in indigenous villages where people are especially vulnerability. Only now is Mexico authorizing boosters for people over age 60. Vaccine access and administration is still a big issue. Most under age 30 are not vaccinated.
Related to this is a recent conversation I’ve had with Susan Coss of La Mezcalistas.My question is: How is mezcal changing the face of Oaxaca? We will be talking more about this, too. I’m still processing my experience being in Oaxaca during Day of the Dead.
So, if you want to bring a bit of Oaxaca and Chiapas home, consider making a purchase of these beautiful garments. Perfect holiday adornment — whether you celebrate quietly or with family and friends in an atmosphere of safety and respect. These make special, unforgettable gifts, too.
How to buy: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice (or use Zelle or Venmo if you prefer — just tell me in your email!) after you ID your choices. The invoice will include the cost of the garment + $12 mailing. If you want more than one piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM. Next day to the post office guaranteed if you order and buy before December 9. On December 11, I’m in transit to return to Oaxaca.
Posted onWednesday, November 17, 2021|Comments Off on Francisca’s French Knot Blouses + Rosario’s Embroidered Shoulder Bags: Holiday Shopping
Just in time for the holidays! Colorful hand-embroidered blouses and shoulder bags from Mexico, yours to gift or for festive wearing during the next few weeks and beyond.
Francisca is an expert in embroidered blouses using the French Knot technique. She lives in Aguacatenango, a small Chiapas village about an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de las Casas. I met her in the plaza some years back during one of our Chiapas textile study tours (there is one space open in the March 8-16, 2022 tour). Her work was far and away the best quality of all the women there, with dense embroidery, all hand-finished seams (no machine stitching in this garment), and 100% Mexican cotton cloth called manta. During Covid, when there were no tourists (and there aren’t that many now, either), I began to order blouses from her to help the family earn income. She sent me this group of all LONG SLEEVE blouses to Oaxaca and I brought them back in my luggage.
The blouses are perfect for winter in southern climates. In the colder north, layer a white HeatTec t-shirt underneath for warmth.
Rosario is a friend from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. I asked her to start making these colorful embroidered shoulder bags last year, also during covid. Her family lives in a humble, concrete block house ringed by a dirt patio. In the traditional way, she cooks outside on the comal — making tortillas, tamales, beans and squash — the staples of campesinos throughout Mexico. The bags are lined, have an interior pocket and zippered closure. They are fun to wear daily or make a delightful, whimsical addition to any festive occasion.
Ethical sourcing and fair trade. I pay both these women outright for what I order at the price they ask. No bargaining! No questions asked. The money goes in their pockets immediately and we can all feel better that we are supporting women and Mexican artisan craft. Francisca told me she can only make two blouses a month! It takes Rosario a month to embroider the pieces to make eight bags. They are embroidered front and back.
How to buy: mailto:email@example.com Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice after you ID your choices. The invoice will include the cost of the garment + $12 mailing. If you want more than one piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM. Next day mailing guarantee if you order and buy before December 10. On December 11, I’m in transit to return to Oaxaca.
Size Medium/Large has an embroidered bodice that is 14” wide. Sleeve is 21” long from shoulder to cuff. (Longer sleeves this time!) 27” wide armpit to armpit. 28-1/2” long from shoulder to hem. $125 each.
Size Large/Extra Large has an embroidered bodice that is 16” wide. Sleeve is 21” long from shoulder to cuff. 29” wide armpit to armpit. 28-1/2” long from shoulder to hem. $135 each.
Care Instructions: Wash in cold water on delicate cycle in washing machine using a mild soap like Fels Naptha or baby shampoo. Do not use Woolite. Hang to dry. Use medium-hot iron to press. Or, dry clean.
SOLD 2. Blue, size L-XL.$135
Shown with Rosario’s shoulder bag.
SOLD. 4 Purple, size L-XL. $135
#5 Purple, size L-XL. $135
SOLD. 7. Red. Size L-XL. $135
Each bag is about 10” wide x 9” high and has a 44” strap that easily works as a cross-body bag.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
Click image to order yours!
Our Programs: Study Tours + Workshops
Dye Workshops All Year. Set Your Own Dates.
Individuals & Groups Welcome!
Hands-on Dye Workshops + Textile Experiences
We offer textile experiences in our studio where we weave and work only in natural dyes.You can see the process during our textile tours, dye workshops or customized weaving experiences. Ask us for more information about these experiences, customized scheduling, and prices.
Oaxaca has the largest and most diverse textile culture in Mexico! Learn about it.
1-Day OaxacaCity Collectors Textile Tour.Exclusive Access! We take you into the homes and workshops of Oaxaca State's prize-winning weavers. They come from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Mixteca, Mixe, Amuzgos and Triqui areas and represent their weaving families and cooperatives here. For collectors, retailers, buyers, wholesalers, fashionistas.
1-Day Oaxaca Textile Walking Tour When you visit Oaxaca immerse yourself in our textile culture: How is indigenous clothing made, what is the best value, most economical, finest available. Suitable for adults only. Set your own dates.
February 5-13, 2023: Bucket List Tour: Monarch Butterflies + Michoacan. Spiritual, mystical connection to nature. Go deep into weaving, pottery, mask-making and more! We haven't offered this tour since 2019 and we anticipate it will sell out quickly. TWO SPACES OPEN
Stay Healthy. Stay Safe. In Oaxaca, wear your mask. Questions? Want more info or to register? Send an email to Norma Schafer.
Maps: Teotitlan + Tlacolula Market
We require 48-hour advance notice for map orders to be processed. We send a printable map via email PDF after order received. Please be sure to send your email address. Where to see natural dyed rugs in Teotitlan del Valle and layout of the Sunday Tlacolula Market, with favorite eating, shopping, ATMs. Click Here to Buy Map After you click, be sure to check PayPal to ensure your email address isn't hidden from us. We fulfill each map order personally. It is not automatic.
Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle