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Norma Writes for Selvedge Magazine Issues #89 + #109
Creating Connection and Meaning between travelers and with indigenous artisans. Meet makers where they live and work. Join small groups of like-minded explorers. Go deep into remote villages. Gain insights. Support cultural heritage and sustainable traditions ie. hand weaving and natural dyeing. Create value and memories. Enjoy hands-on experiences. Make a difference.
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with makers 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. We create connection and help artisans reach people who value them and their work.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
We Contribute Two Chapters!
Meet Makers. Make a DifferenceOaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university, textile and artisan development experience. See About Us.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your independent travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, curators, universities and others come to us to develop artisan relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Abeja Boutique, Houston *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 *MINNA *University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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- 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
Zapotecs: The First Scribes
I am reading “Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history about everyone for the last 13,000 years” by Jared Diamond, which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. For anyone interested in the cultural, social and political history about human beings, this is THE book to read. Diamond asks the basic question, why were some societies able to develop the technology and wherewithal to conquer, lead, and dominate? Why did some remain hunter gatherers and others become farmers? Does it have to do with intelligence or something else? Diamond says it is the “something else.” It had to do with, he concludes, the identification of edible wild grains that could be cultivated and grown to sustain large populations. (Large populations being the key to technological prowess because they are able to grow enough food to feed specialists: warriors, ruling class, potters, scribes.) Most of these grains were native to Eurasia (the Fertile Crescent area). Another factor was the breeding of herding animals that could become sources for food and labor. The ancestors of goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and cows came from Eurasia. There were no animals on the North American continent that could be domesticated. The llama/alpaca from the Andes never made it north because of the geographic barriers. It was much easier for food and animals to cross the Eurasia continent on the same east-west axis latitude, than it was for animals and food to take hold on a north-south longitude (Africa and the Americas) where the climate differences can be extreme, limiting where seeds can be sown. An alpaca would not do well crossing the Sonoran desert!
Diamond talks about whether food cultivation and sedentary farming, language and writing, technology development (stone to metal tools), developed independently in different parts of the world, or were developed in one part and transmitted to others. The Sumerians of Mesopotamia developed writing in 3,000 B.C. The other certain instance of independent writing origins in our human history, he says, comes from the Zapotecs in southern Mexico in around 600 B.C. where the earliest preserved script is partially deciphered. There are about a dozen Mesoamerican scripts that are related to each other and the one that is best understood to date is from the Lowland Maya region. The Zapotec language today is only an oral language and when it is written, for example, on the tri-lingual (Spanish, Zapotec, English) translations of the history keys at the Mitla, Dainzu and Yagul archeological sites, the Zapotec language is represented as a transliteration of the spoken words. The Maya and Sumerian writing were organized on similar basic principles using both logograms and phonetic signs. One might assume that the Zapotec language may have been similar, but it is not yet known.
I write this because it is one more discovery about the Oaxaca region that I find fascinating in the continuing commentary about culture, society, and life. For a general review of the book, click here.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture
Tagged ancient cultures, Guns Germs and Steel, history of writing, Jared Diamond, Oaxaca origin of writing, Sumerian writing, Zapotec language, Zapotec writing