About three years ago, before our last visit to the Oaxaca coast in 2020 and long before Covid hit us, the famous Amuzgo weaving cooperative Flor de Xochistlahuaca located across the Oaxaca border in Guerrero state separated into two groups. We heard there were differences in mission and objectives. Some founders of the original group wanted to function more as a mutual support organization to help one another, and do more than weave and sell. From this separation was born Flores de la Llanura Tejadores or Weavers from the Prairie of Flowers.
They are from Xochistlahuaca, Zacoalpan and Plan de Muertos (village name). Some work in natural dyes. They pick, card, beat, and make fine thread from indigenous cotton using the malacate drop spindle. They weave huipiles and rebozos on back strap looms. Their signature design is a garden of flowers executed in precise mathematical patterns seared into historic memory. In Zacoalpan, some of the women grow native organic cotton — coyuchi brown, pale green and creamy white — on small plots that they tend themselves or with their husbands and children.
The cooperative is committed to education and takes great pride in teaching young women and men the art of weaving on the back strap loom. Five boys are now learning to weave, but it still remains the work of girls and women.
They are also committed to social justice. We are told women here (and know that throughout Mexico) live with violence, especially in remote indigenous villages. In many Amuzgo villages, violence is normalized. Women accept and do not complain. More and more now, people are speaking up and speaking out.
Three years ago, a young adult daughter of cooperative member Silvia was a victim of femicide. A mother of three young children, her husband took her life. Her family and her community wanted justice. Over two years, they did the legal work to land the killer a 40-year prison term. They want to take a stand to tell women to speak up and say it’s not okay to be violated.
A documentary video tells the story in a very sensitive way. This is the trailer.
Flores de la llanura / Trailer-Esp from Urdimbre Audiovisual on Vimeo.
We gather together, Amuzgo women and visitors to discuss identity, values, traditions and weaving techniques. Then, we have a delicious lunch of home cooked pozole especially prepared for us at a local comedor around the corner.
Then, we return to look at all the beautiful clothing hung from lines tied to tree trunks. There’s a special table set up under the trees where a fundraiser for Silvia’s grandchildren is underway. We make a beeline to support this effort.
Their work honors cultural, ancestral traditions. They hold the stories of their mothers, grandmothers and antipasados (ancestors) close to them through the creation of magnificent cloth. They learned to weave in order to clothe themselves. They call baby clothes Mother Cotton and give handwoven gifts of clothing when there is a birth. The story goes that grandmothers are making thread to tie off the umbilical cord. Cotton, they say, has been here since the creation of the world. They value their culture and their job is to maintain the traditions. Yecenia, a cooperative leader, tells us that the Spanish tried to kill the culture, so much of the spiritual significance of the symbols woven into the cloth are lost.
We will visit Las Flores de la Llanura in 2023. We are taking registrations now for 2023 Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour. We limit our travelers to 10 people. Please tell us when you are ready to register and make a deposit to participate. We sell out so make your decision as soon as you are able. All travelers on our 2022 tour tested covid negative before returning to the USA and Canada!
Its a blessing to be here to support this group.
We all made a purchase. Few foreigners come here and finding places to sell is difficult. A tour group that came two weeks before us bought nothing and the women of Flores de la Llanura were very disappointed.