Tag Archives: Tlacolula de Matamoros

Continuing Thanks from The Oaxaca Mask Project: Alvin Starkman and Eric Zapotrek

We continue to make and distribute masks, although at a less frenzied pace! This week, Alvin Starkman from Oaxaca Mezcal Educational Tours picked up 60 masks from Kalisa Wells in El Centro. He gave 20 to folks he knows in San Dionisio Ocotepec. Villagers in San Pablo Guila asked Alvin if he could get them more masks, so he brought 20 there, too. Twenty more will go toa small village TBD where Alvin’s goddaughter, La Doctora Lucina, will do her servicio social.

Mask recipients in San Dionisio Ocotepec made by Telarcito Lindo

We had funded the making of 100 more masks in Tlacolula de Matamoros under the supervision of Eric Ramirez, the English-speaking owner of Zapotrek. Eric is a knowledgeable adventure guide who has a superb knowledge of history and archeology, among other things. Early in The Project, he asked how he could help. He identified a seamstress who needed support. We sent money via Western Union.

We make masks, pay the sewists, and give the masks to those in need for FREE. The project is funded by donations.

Eric handing out masks in Tlacolula

This week, Eric gave more masks to vendors and customers in the Tlacolula Market.

Now, Oaxaca has gone from Code Red to Code Orange, using the traffic-light (semiforo) system of identifying the severity of C-19 spread. Many of us think this is done for the reason of boosting the economy, not because the disease risk has diminished.

Masked recipients in Tlacolula

Kalisa reports that on her masked forages to the Benito Juarez market, most are now wearing masks inside.

In the barbecue dining section, Tlacolula Market

But, we can see in Tlacolula that the story is different. There are still maskless vendors and shoppers. It’s no different there than it is in the USA. Some people want to protect themselves and others. Many are “non-believers” as if mask-wearing was one form of religion.

Still accepting gifts. To contribute to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

Sewn masks with hang tags for use and cleaning

Here, in my own Durham, NC, apartment condo building, where there are 90 units in a historic downtown repurposed tobacco warehouse, despite the signs, many are not wearing masks in public spaces. It is so frustrating and I find myself getting angry at the mask-less who ignore the printed and email messages that masks are required in the public spaces.

What are their excuses when I ask, Where’s your mask?

The mask-less in Tlacolula

Oh, I left it in my car. I forgot. It’s in my apartment. I just went out for a quick errand. Oh, it’s in my pocket. I was just out for a bike ride. Or, it’s dangling around their neck. What to do? Steer clear. Make a wide arc around them. Take a deep breath.

Tortillas and bread, Tlacolula Market

Meanwhile, all over the world, rates of infection are increasing, deaths are on the rise, and I’m still scared and being super cautious.

Tia (left) and Butch, taking it easy in Teotitlan del Valle

And, I’ve been worried about my dogs. But, they are well-fed and cared for by my host family in Teotitlan del Valle. Mostly, I guess, I’m missing them — our daily walks in the campo with the vast landscape of mesquite and cactus, purple mountains casting shadows on the valley, the green of summer rains. You know that smell of rain when everything is fresh.

When will I be able to return? A gnawing question that has no answer.

Please tell everyone you meet to wear a mask! Stay safe. We are in this for the long-haul.

Lost Textile Tradition of Making Needle Lace Revived in Oaxaca

The town of Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca, is widely known for its Sunday market or tianguis.  Tourists and villagers from throughout the region flock there to shop, eat or stock up on whatever is needed for home or workshop.

Visitors know little about the textile traditions of Tlacolula, where up until the 1960’s cotton and silk ikat rebozos with long, intricately hand-tied fringes (puntas) were still hand-woven there to be used with versatility as head scarf, baby and bundle carrier, and shawl.  Today, rayon, called seda (silk in Spanish), or cotton ikat rebozos are imported from the state of Mexico to fill the market gap of the locally lost art.

Another local tradition that was lost was the making of needle lace.  Today, this tradition is being revived by Tamara Rivas Vazquez in Tlacolula de Matamoros where she lives and works.  Making needle lace is a laborious art requiring exceptional dexterity and a lot of patience.  Its origins are European.  Needle lace became popular in Mexico in the 19th century.  The technique consists of fashioning a network of tiny knots that are tied, one by one, using a single thread and needle.  Tamara learned the technique by interviewing elderly women in Tlacolula and recording their knowledge.

Tamara says that the strips of needle lace are called cambalaches.  In the example of her work, on display at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Tamera used industrial cotton poplin embellished with needle lace and black embroidery as part of the smocking.  It took her eight months to complete the piece, shown above and below, which is now part of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca permanent collection.  Notice the intricate needle lace work under the armpits.  This part is called, humorously enough, “the louse’s window.”

For the past two weeks, Tamara and her husband, Alfonso Gonzalez Inaldonado, have been at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca giving a class on the intricate art of making needle lace.  He is the pattern designer and they work together as a team –a typical practice in artisan households.  This is an intensive, 2-week experience.  Some of the participants are wearing magnifying glasses because the work is so detailed. Two have come from  Mexico City and one from Colorado to learn this technique.

For classes about this and other textile topics, contact the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.  To learn traditional tapestry weaving with naturally dyed wool, attend a workshop in Teotitlan del Valle.