First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported the artisans whose work I have featured here. The dollars I have sent back to them in Oaxaca and Chiapas have helped sustain families through this health crisis — Covid-19 — when there is no tourism.
I also want to add that there is a benefit to my being here in Durham, NC, right now — shipping cost is bundled and covers sending multiple pieces from Mexico to the USA, making these pieces much more affordable. Usually, it is $60-80 USD to send one piece from Oaxaca to the states or Canada. So, while I am here, I will continue to work with cooperatives to bring their work to you. I would not be able to do this were I in Oaxaca!
Tomorrow, October 19, I will feature five (5) rugs from the Taller Teñido a Mano workshop in Oaxaca.
Shop will open Monday, October 19, 1 PM Eastern Time
Elsa Sanchez, proprietor of Taller Tenido a Mano, dyes the wool yarn with natural plant materials and cochineal. Colors include cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, wood barks and nuts. These sturdy rugs are woven by my godson and Elsa’s husband, Eric Chavez. Cost will range from $195 to $295 plus mailing.
Here is one rug example:
At the end of the week, I will offer handmade blouses from Aguacatenango, Chiapas, by Francisca. She works in embroidery using exquisite French knots. The bodice is so dense with embroidery you cannot see the base fabric, which is 100% cotton manta. This time, we will have more long sleeve pieces and more that are sized Large and Extra-Large. They will sell for $120 plus mailing.
These are the BEST woven plastic market bags I have seen in Oaxaca. They are tightly woven with sturdy handles long enough to tote over your shoulder. Excellent for all kinds of shopping, including at your local Farmer’s Market. I buy them from a small Oaxaca shop that has an outstanding design sensibility.
I am leaving for the U.S. on March 12. Buy by March 10 and I will bring yours with me and mail by March 16. I will only bring those that are pre-SOLD.
How to Buy: Each bag is $48 + $12 mailing, for a total of $60 USD. Tell me which bag you want. Each is numbered below. Send this to me with your name, mailing address (street, city, state, ZIP) by email: email@example.com I will send you a PayPal invoice. Thank you.
Here is a selection of hand-woven agave fiber market bags and totes, a few woven purses and shoulder bags perfect for carrying cell phones and coin purses. I’ve added tops and a poncho cover-up, too. All from Oaxaca and Chiapas. Don’t miss anything: there are 14 pieces, so scroll down to the end!
To buy, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org Include your name, mailing address with city, state and ZIP code, along with the ITEM NUMBER. I will send you an invoice and add on an $8 charge to mail USPS Priority Mail. As soon as I receive payment, I will ship.
NOTE: ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY MAY 9, 2019. The last day I can mail is May 10. I return to Oaxaca on May 11. Thanks very much.
This is the finest quality hand-woven cactus fiber bag made in Chiapas. This is an original to the village of Magdalena Aldama where the men weave these and use them for field bags — to carry feed for the animals, food and water for themselves. They cut, soak, strip, and weave the agave leaves all by hand. The finest ones take three-months to make. They are strong, durable and functional. Comes with adjustable leather straps. They are works of artistry. The coffee color of the bags comes from the smoke over the wood cooking fires. Each one is different.
#1 is from the famed Sna Jolobil cooperative. Measures 26″ wide by 28″ long. The fine cotton cloth is woven on a back-strap loom. The bodice is hand-embroidered in the tiniest stitches. Moss green against cream, light and comfy for summer. They will be at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market this summer and you can bet the prices will be double.
#2 is from the small family cooperative operated by Rosa and Cristobal in Magdalena Aldama. This is what the women wear for their daily attire. Each year that I go, the designs become even more elaborate. I hand-picked this piece based on quality of weaving and the density of the supplementary weft — the threads added during the weaving process to create the patterns. It takes hours to make a piece like this. Piece is 26″ wide by 24″ long.
#3 From Oxchuc, Chiapas, and woven by Cristina on a back-strap loom. This is a wonderful, soft cotton poncho in a graphic black and white. It took Cristina 38 hours to weave this and it measures 32” wide x 28” long, $145
#5 (above) and #6 (below) and #7 (third) are hand-woven market bags — best quality. They are originals to the village of Magdalena Aldama where the men weave these and use them for field bags — to carry feed for the animals, food and water for themselves. They cut, soak, strip, and weave the agave leaves all by hand. The finest ones take three-months to make. They are strong, durable and functional. Comes with adjustable leather straps. They are works of artistry. The coffee color of the bags comes from the smoke over the wood cooking fires. Each one is different.
#8 comes from Tenejapa, Chiapas and is woven on a back-strap loom using the supplementary weft (added threads to the warp) technique to create the beautiful pattern. Use it for cell phone and coin purse or an evening bag,
#9 is a well-crafted wool bag, lined, from Teotitlan del Valle. It has a zipper. Priced at less than what I paid for it.
#10 is wool dyed with cochineal red from the Bii Dauu cooperative in Teotitlan del Valle who does some of the finest work in the village. It is lined and has a zipper. Priced at less than what I paid for it.
#11 is a unique bag with a lively color combination. I bought it in the weekly market directly from the maker. The village is an hour and a world away from San Cristobal de las Casas.
#12 is a soft, soft, grey and cream stripe wool woven on a back-strap loom in the village of San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, where women raise their own sheep, then card, spin and weave. Use this for a winter wrap or drape it over a chair, sofa, ottoman or bed for Bo-Ho style.
#14 is woven on a back-strap loom in a small Chiapas village. I love the color combo. It comes from Jolom Mayatik Cooperative. The braided strap is a work of art in itself and is of highest quality. Use for evening, cell phone, coin purse and cosmetics.
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:
The Chatino bags have a proper name in Spanish, which is "arganita."Morral is also correct, in the sense that all Mexican bags aregenerically called that. Also, the knotted part ( where they stop weaving and start
knotting the woven part), is then often embroidered. In Karen Elwell's photo,the birds in the knotting are embroidered over the knotting, ratherthan being created by the knotting.
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
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.
In planning for a visit to India in November 2016 and on the recommendation of a friend, I ordered a copy of Emma Tarlo’s book, Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India. What strikes me are the similarities between Mexico and India and the politics of cloth as a statement of belonging, assimilation and independence.
Emma Tarlo is a British cultural anthropologist and the book is based on research for her doctoral degree. Identity is tied to the quality of cloth, where it’s made, how it’s made and by whom, style (is it westernized or indigenous) and how a person feels about him/herself in their chosen attire.
Clothes are symbols for who we are, where we come from and who we aspire to be. They are also symbols for keeping people in their place by banning attire or requiring that people maintain a dress code based on their ethnic identity.
Oaxaca’s khadi cloth, with native coyuchi and handspun, naturally dyed cotton
Indigenous dress can convey a strong sense of pride or shame. Handmade cloth is more costly than machine woven textiles and often unaffordable to most.Handmade can be code for poverty, class and rough quality. In Chiapas, metallic, synthetic thread is all the rage by Chamula women. It is difficult to find natural dyes there now.
The first section of the book addresses the politics of cloth, India’s M.K. Ghandi social movement to eradicate manufactured and imported cloth and reinstate khadi cotton as part of a national independence movement.
It was curious to me to read this because Khadi is also the name of a Oaxaca cooperative that hand-spins and hand weaves native cotton using the type of spinning wheel used in India. The textile is soft, airy, comfortable and easy to wear in Oaxaca’s climate. Yet, I had no idea until reading Tarlo’s book how closely tied this identity of cloth is between the two countries.
I’ll be writing more about as I re-enter Oaxaca. It’s important to look at indigenous clothing not only as beautiful textiles but as significant for supporting local economic development. Cloth has value. It is a root of identity.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
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Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
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Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle