Tag Archives: purple snail dye

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Sale for Oaxaca Coast Textile Artisans

Most of us have made the difficult choice to NOT travel to Oaxaca at least until the pandemic is under control and a vaccine is readily available. I have heard from many people asking what we can do, absent of travel, to support indigenous artisans who have been VERY hard hit by the tourist economy free-fall. Bottom line: People are suffering and we can help directly by purchasing something beautiful they have made.

We are getting a jump on Black Friday by making this opportunity available to you today!

Happy Thanksgiving — Special Dreamweavers Sale for You — 10% Discount. Sale starts TODAY

That’s why I invited Patrice Perillie, founder of Dreamweavers /Tixinda Textiles from Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, to write a guest blog. Together, we are offering a select group of hand-woven, naturally-dyed textiles for sale at 10% off.

Patrice says: Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to re-think how we shop and who we support.  Please consider giving a gift that will sustain indigenous weavers while delighting your loved ones! If indigenous artisans are going to survive this pandemic they need your help. 

How to Buy and Get 10% Discount:

  1. Go to Mexican Dreamweavers Facebook Page and find the textiles for sale.
  2. Choose which piece(s) you wish to purchase. Please fully describe.
  3. You tell Patrice which piece you want and that you were referred by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator: Norma Schafer
  4. When you say we referred you, you will receive a 10% discount on your purchase. You will NOT receive the discount unless you say we referred you.
  5. You send Patrice your name, address, zip code, telephone number, item(s) description and cost
  6. Patrice will send you an invoice and add on the cost of shipping to the USA from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca (estimated at about $65, depending on weight — note: higher shipping costs to Canada)
  7. You will receive your purchase in about 7-10 days via either FedEx or Estafeta

Email for Patrice Perillie

You might ask: What is tixinda? This is the rare purple dye that is extracted from the caracol purpura sea snail. Tixinda is what the snail is called in the Mixtec language.

Below are some examples of what is available to purchase:

$400 USD. Indigo, rare purple tixinda and white cotton.
42″ long x 28″ wide

What Patrice Perillie, Immigrant Rights Attorney, Says …

I write to you from beautiful Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, where I have called home for the past 32 years. Here we all try to keep ourselves COVID-safe by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and sanitizing, and not depending on government restrictions which are in earnest but rarely enforced. It has been a difficult time especially for the indigenous artisans of our world.

For the past 12 years, it has been my privilege to work with Tixinda, a cooperative of Mixtec women weavers from Pinotepa de Don Luis. We don’t see each other much now and we have had to adapt to the new COVID world.  Many of the events we sell at have been canceled, including the prestigious International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Our all-volunteer, non-profit organization Mexican Dreamweavers*, has also been forced to cancel what would have been our 12th Annual Dreamweavers Exhibition and Sale, which normally takes place the fourth Sunday in January. Norma’s celebrated Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour to participate in this event is also canceled. We need to stay home to protect ourselves and our indigenous friends.

$200 USD. Use as shawl or table runner. Coyuchi and native cream colored cotton.

The Mixtec weavers of the Tixinda weaving cooperative are among the last of weavers in Mexico who grow their own cotton — white, green and native brown coyuchi. They spin it with the ancient drop spindle, color the fiber with natural dyes and weave it on back strap looms. An average of 400 hours of women’s work goes into each weaving!

Natural Colors from Local Plants and the Sea

Textiles feature the blues and blacks of indigo, red cochineal, and the sacred Mixtec purple dye tixinda that is extracted from a rare, nearly extinct sea snail. The color represents the divine feminine and fertility, a harvest is guided by the Moon!  Pinotepa de Don Luis is the last place on earth where only 15 men, most over the age of 60, risk their lives and brave powerful waves along Oaxaca’s rocky coastline to lovingly extract the purple tixinda dye without killing the snail.  

Wearables: Face-Masks, Huipiles, Shawls and More

Our beautiful, three-ply face masks make great stocking stuffers! A lovely shawl or table runner can dress up the holidays. Waist-length cropped blusas and longer huipiles add pizzazz to daily or special occasion wear. Even during the pandemic, we can create beauty in our lives by wearing something handmade.

$600 USD. Indigo, cochineal, coyuchi and rare purple tixinda. Woven by 48-year-old Lula. 30″ wide by 43″ long

As we celebrate the holidays in small bubbles of family and friends, we can express our love for Oaxaca by supporting her talented weavers. Our purchases give indigenous women the opportunity to stay in their villages and work from their homes, for themselves, instead of migrating without documentation to become cleaning and service industry help.

As an immigrant rights attorney, the reverse migration aspects of this work are what draws me to it, not to mention that I am an unabashed cross-cultural cross-dresser! Since the pandemic hit, I have received more and more requests to help indigenous artisans go to the US to make a living. Instead, let’s join together this Holiday Season and help them stay home and stay safe!

$300 USD. Woven on back-strap loom this tunic can be worn with pants or skirts. It has an indigo background and the Mixtec designs are in the rare purple tixinda dye and the brown coyuchi cotton. 100% cotton.

*Mexican Dreamweavers is a reverse migration project of La Abogada del Pueblo,Inc.,  a registered 501(c)(3). All donations are tax deductible!

To help ensure that these artisans and their textile traditions survive this pandemic, Dreamweavers has adapted to changing times and we invite you all to visit our

$700 USD. Hand-spun native brown coyuchi cotton with cochineal. 40″ wide x 47″ long

Go Fund Me: Help Mexican Dreamweavers Get to International Folk Art Market

After I wrote about and linked Alex Szerlip’s comprehensive article, Vintage Tech–Tyrian Purple, I asked immigration attorney Patrice Perillie how the fundraising effort to get the Mexican Dreamweavers Cooperative to the Santa Fe Folk Art Market this summer was going.

We need to raise $4,000 more, she said.

Make a Tax-Deductible GoFund Me Gift to Mexican Dreamweavers.

Patrice is the advocate for Mexican Dreamweavers and has set up a USA non-profit organization to accept tax-deductible donations.

Why Mexican Dreamweavers needs your help:

Mexican Dreamweavers supports the indigenous Mixtec women and men of Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, to preserve their cultural heritage of back-strap loom weaving, harvesting and applying purple shell dye to native-grown cotton. This gift helps transport them to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market to sell their work on a global scale. So important for survival and continuity.

78-year-old purple snail dyer Habacuc shows Nancy color intensity

What is most important to Oaxaca’s weavers and dyers?

To bring what they make to market. Without buyers, artisan craft will not survive. Artisans tell me this wherever we travel in Mexico. They ask, help us sell our work. Bring us to the USA. Bring people to visit us. Often, they do not speak Spanish and cannot communicate their needs beyond their indigenous language of Mixtec, or Zapotec or Ikoots without translation.

In this case, the Cooperative demonstrated their amazing talent by being accepted into the highly competitive Santa Fe International Folk Art Market — a juried show. We can help them get there. They must fund their own travel expenses that includes hotel, food and transportation for several people.

Make a Tax-Deductible GoFund Me Gift to Mexican Dreamweavers.

Show them that we care.

Thank you!

Help bring these talented weavers and dyers to Santa Fe!

Purple Snail Dye, Pinotepa de Don Luis and Identity Markers

The caracol purpura is losing ground and so are the tintoreros, the dyers who milk them, applying the dye directly to the cotton cloth on the rocky Oaxaca coast to give up its extraordinary purple color, keeping the mollusk alive. The dyers, led by 78 year-old Don Habacuc Avedano, come from the Mixtec town of Pinotepa de Don Luis, high in the mountains on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica. It’s the women of the village, the wives and daughters, who spin and weave this cloth into some of the most coveted textiles in Oaxaca.

Nancy examines purple snail dye skein with Don Habacuc

The snail is close to extinction.

One of 4 skeins dyed in 2018. Before, 40+ skeins.

We visited this village during our recent Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour, an 11-day investigation into the growing, spinning, dyeing and weaving textile culture of Oaxaca. I will ONLY offer this trip again in January 2020 IF I have six people committed to go by April 1, 2019, with a $500 deposit. Contact me.

We arrived on Don Habacuc’s 78th Birthday with a Mañanitas song

We visited this village during our recent Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour, an 11-day investigation into the growing, spinning, dyeing and weaving textile culture of Oaxaca’s Pacific Coast. I will ONLY offer this trip again in January 2020 IF I have six people committed to go by April 1, 2019, with a $500 deposit. Contact me.

Mexico’s cultural anthropologist Martha Turok Wallace has worked tirelessly over her career to help preserve the natural dye culture here, support villagers, and suggest ways they could adapt their work to reach new markets. Without sales to visitors, the textile culture will be lost. Without conservation and public education, the snail will become extinct.

Gauze-weave huipil from Pinotepa de Don Luis

As recently as the 1970’s, the traditional dress for Pinotepa de Don Luis women was a posahuanco (wrap-around skirt), woven in three-lengths of cloth on the back-strap loom, the lengths hand-stitched, and the cloth dyed with caracol purpura, indigo and cochineal. That’s what the purple snail dye was used for. Topless for this hot, humid climate, they wore a finely hand-woven, transparent white huipil that draped from head to shoulders. The cloth was held in place by an inverted dried gourd, worn much like a crown with a veil.

Hand-carved gourd (jicara) with sea life

Martha suggested that the gourd could be carved and used as a container. It is now finely carved with intricate figures of birds, flowers, sea life and used as wall decor and lamp-bases, too.

I’ve heard Martha speak at conferences about how important it is to innovate and adapt in order to keep the traditions of a culture vibrant. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing people to blue jeans and polyester. But for me the question always remains, What is authentic and does this mean we behave as colonials to keep people fixed in their place? Progress means change. Progress means better education, health care, access to economic prosperity.

Posahuanco with apron cover-up

Today, women in the village cover themselves with bra-type aprons that drape over the posahuanco. The posahuanco has also changed. It can include native coyuchi brown and white cotton. I’ve seen it worn as a mini-skirt with a zipper by younger women.

The skirt is the main identity marker of the village along with the purple shell dye.

Bitty looks over the vintage posahuanco and intricate weave

What is an identity marker?

An identity marker is how one defines self in relationship to the group(s) we belong to. It is cultural and distinctive, based on a common language, values, ethnicity, religion, social class, age group, where we live, or the type of dress we choose to wear. Walk into the regional market in Pinotepa Nacional and you know immediately that the woman wearing the posahuanco with the apron top is from Pinotepa de Don Luis.

Linda is thrilled with this indigo dyed blusa

What about the hand-woven long dresses (huipiles) and tops (blusas) from Pinotepa de Don Luis?

Gretchen’s Blusa: Fertility figures, double-headed turkeys, flowers on supplemental weft

These are designed and made for foreigners — those who live outside the village. Sometimes, you will see a local woman wearing this huipil at shows or special tourist sales events, but it is rare. This is another form of adaptation to use the native hand-spun cotton produced in the village, woven on the back-strap loom, the threads often dyed with indigo or touches of the shell dyed cotton or silk.

Purple snail dye on the coast of Oaxaca
Rafael, Don Habacuc’s son, the next and perhaps last generation of dyers

I’ll be writing more about this region in days to come. So stay tuned. On Wednesday, I’m off to Michoacan to lead another folk art study tour.

2019 Oaxaca Textile Study Tour: San Mateo del Mar and the Purple Snail

Saturday, January 5 to Thursday, January 10, 2019 — Six days, five nights immersed in the weaving and natural dyeing culture of Oaxaca’s southern coast. You can take this short-course independently or add it on to the front end of our Costa Chica study tour. 

Itinerary

  • Saturday, January 5, arrive in Huatulco on Oaxaca’s mid-coast. Overnight in or near Huatulco (D)
  • Sunday, January 6, spend the day on the rocky shore line to see how the native snail — caracol purpura — that gives off the purple dye is protected and cultivated. Our expert is Habacuc, a member of the Pinotepa de Don Luis community authorized to harvest this rare crustacean. Overnight in or near Huatulco (B, L)

Caracol purpura dyed cotton thread before it goes to the loom

  • Monday, January 7 through Wednesday, January 9, travel and stay in to Salina Cruz where we will be based to explore the nearby Ikoots coastal village of San Mateo del Mar. Here, fine cotton gauze is woven on the back strap loom.  Turtles, fish, crabs, birds, palm trees are incorporated into the cloth that show the area’s relationship to the sea.  Our visit to several weaving cooperatives includes a contribution to the 2017 September 17 earthquake relief fund that is helping restore village services. (B, L)

Cloth embellished with figures from the natural world

  • Thursday, January 10, we return to Huatulco where we will drop you off at the airport for an afternoon departure time or you can continue up the coast with us to Puerto Escondido. Its a five-hour drive from Salina Cruz to Puerto Escondido along MEX 200. We’ll have lunch in or near Huatulco to break up the trip. Lodging on the night of January 10 is on your own. (B, L)

Finely woven blusa from San Mateo del Mar

What the Trip Includes:

  • 5 nights lodging
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 1 dinner
  • Guided boat trip on Huatulco coast to harvest the caracol purpura
  • All van transportation from Huatulco to San Mateo del Mar and back to either Huatulco or Puerto Escondido
  • Donation to San Mateo del Mar earthquake relief fund

What the Short-Course DOES NOT Include: Airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and optional local transportation as specified in the itinerary. It does not include taxi or shuttle service from airport to hotel.

We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

Resources, Glossary of Terms


Cost to Participate

  • $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $1,895 for a single supplement (private room and bath, sleeps 1)

Who Should Attend

  • Explorers of indigenous cloth, native fibers
  • Those interested in natural dyes, cultural preservation
  • Textile and fashion designers
  • Weavers, embroiderers and collectors
  • Home goods wholesalers/retailers who want a direct source
  • Photographers and artists who want inspiration
  • Anyone who loves cloth, culture and collaboration

Indigo, cochineal and caracol purpura huipil, Pinotepa de Don Luis

Reservations and Cancellations.  A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The last 50% payment is due on or before November 15, 2018. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After November 15, 2018, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel on or before November 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.