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Posts Tagged ‘flor inmortal’

I always prefer to go down to Oaxaca’s zócalo in the morning of December 23rd to watch the Noche de Rábanos artisans bring their creations into being — and before the masses descend.  At this year’s 120th annual Rábanos the crowds had already begun to gather behind the barriers by 10:30 AM.  Of course, the downside to going early is that some of the artisans are further along in their work than others.

Alas, in the category of Rábanos Tradicional (radishes representing traditional subject matter), the eventual first prize winner had only just begun…

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“Nacimiento Tradicional” by Hermenegildo Contreras Cruz

However, when I passed by, the eventual first prize winner in the category of Rábanos Libre (radishes free subject matter) was almost finished and the dragon was about to be slayed.

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“Corazón de Dragón” by Salvador Yrizar Díaz

In the Flor Inmortal (dried flower) category…  How could I have missed 2/3rds of the entries?!!  However, I did manage to capture the 2nd prize winner.

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“Una tarde en el Templo de Santo Domingo” by Rosalía Santiago Cornelio

Then there was the Totomoxtle (corn husks)…  Second place in the Totomoxtle Natural (natural husk color) category went to this delightful depiction of Oaxaca’s version of a county fair that even included a House of Horror and a Tilt-A-Whirl.

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“Feria Popular” by Jorge Ramos Gallegos

First place in the category of Totomoxtle Natural was awarded to…

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“Buscando la paz hastati. Virgencita de Juquila” by José Méndez Miranda

And, what can I say about “Nahualli” by Marco Antonio Ruíz Sosa, the winner of the Totomoxtle Decorado (dyed corn husks)?

Do you think Lewis Carroll was channeling shadow souls when he wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?  Kenneth Grahame when he wrote The Wind in the Willows?  Was C. S. Lewis guided by a nahualli when he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?  And, what about Beatrix Potter???

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Artificial Christmas tree vying for top honors with an Indian laurel on the Alameda.

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Baby Jesús wearing his flor inmortal diapers in the courtyard between Del Maguey and Los Baúles de Juana Cata.

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“Star of wonder, star of light” above Amate Books on the Alcalá.

And, yes, the sky really was that blue today.

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It’s December 23 in Oaxaca and Noche de Rabanos is upon us.  The setting-up has begun and the spectators are gathering.  Despite its name, it isn’t just about artisans working their creative magic carving radishes.  There are three other categories, including the use of Flor Inmortal (a type of dried flower).  I will return this evening, but in the meantime, this entry titled, “Elaborando Artesanía, Plasmando Sueños: ‘Teotitlán del Valle, Tierra de Dioses'” by Raymundo Sánchez Monserrat Maricela, is for all my friends in Teotitlán del Valle.

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Spinning the wool.

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Weaving tapetes from the spun wool.

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Grinding corn or maybe chocolate OR maybe even cochinilla!

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Dancing the Danza de la Pluma…

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The danzantes of the Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa keeping their promise.

I think Raymundo did a wonderful job capturing the people of Teotitlán del Valle, the Land of the Gods, who make crafts and shape dreams.

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The “only in Oaxaca” Noche de Rábanos is coming!  If you are in Oaxaca, the zócalo is the place to be on December 23 to watch radishes being carved into familiar and fantastical creations.  Among the former, dancers from Oaxaca’s eight regions are a favorite.

Danza de la Pluma dancer in Rábanos Tradicional category 2012

Danza de la Pluma dancer in Rábanos Tradicional category 2012

Baile del Guajolote dancer in Rábanos Libre category 2013

Baile del Guajolote dancer in Rábanos Libre category 2013

Despite of the name, it isn’t just about carved radishes.  The artists of Oaxaca work their creative magic in several other categories, including dried flowers…

Chinas Oaxaqueñas in Flor Inmortal category 2012

Chinas Oaxaqueñas in Flor Inmortal category 2012

… and corn husks.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas entry in Totomoxtle Natural category 2012

Chinas Oaxaqueñas entry in Totomoxtle Natural category 2012

Jarabe Mixteco dancer in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Jarabe Mixteco dancer in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Danza de los Huenches Viejos de Yalalag in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Danza de los Huenches Viejos de Yalalag in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

I wish I could be in two places at one time, so I could experience this year’s Night of the Radishes.  If you are lucky enough to be there, enjoy and take lots of photos!

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As we have done in previous years, we returned to San Antonino Castillo Velasco on November 1 to watch families begin the preparation of the graves of their loved ones for Día de los Muertos.  In a process unique to this pueblo known for the cultivation of flowers, family members mix the area’s very fine dirt with water; spread it on the top and sides of the grave; smooth it with a trowel, as if they were getting ready to lay tile; using a nail, they outline designs and religious imagery into the mud coating; and then use flowers (fresh and dried), to “paint” the scene.  

This year’s late rainy season brought torrential rains on November 2 and it must have interrupted the decorating, because when we returned on November 3, at the same time as usual, there was still much work to be done.  However, no one seemed the least perturbed; peace, tranquility, and quiet joy prevailed and, as always, it enveloped us.

(Music: Marimba band performing, “Díos Nunca Muere,” written by Oaxaqueño composer and violinist Macedonio Alcalá.)

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It’s that time of year, again.  Daylight doesn’t last quite as long, the large red-orange blossoms of the African tulip trees have mostly fallen (onto my terrace!), and the hummingbirds have mostly departed, leaving the airspace to the dragonflies and butterflies.

Decorated canasta with religious scene.

However, the season of yellow marigolds (cempazuchitl) and the yellows, oranges, and purples of flor inmortal (immortal flower) has begun and that means Días de los Muertos and Noche de Rabanos  can’t be far behind.

Decorated canasta with image of Virgin Mary.

In the meantime, during the past week, Teotitlán del Valle celebrated La Santísima Virgen del Rosario and early Friday evening, the unmarried girls and women gathered with their canastas for the traditional convite (holy procession).

Decorated canasta with image of bandaged head of Jesus.

And, given the season, flor inmortal played a prominent role in the decorations of many of the canastas.Flor inmortal surround a crucifixion scene on a canasta.

And, as always, I’m amazed and captivated by the girls and women who, with arms raised, balance these sizable baskets on their head, as they navigate the sacred route along the cobbled (and, this day, rain-slicked) streets of Teotitlán del Valle — for almost an hour!Young women wearing dark red wool wrap skirts and embroidered white blouses, carry large canastas on their heads

It’s a scene that I never tire of — of course, I’m not carrying a canasta on my head!

More photos and commentary over at Oaxaca-The Year After.

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It didn’t start that way; I awoke to horrifying news from Colorado.  Thank goodness blogger buddy Chris called and the heart that beats in Oaxaca beckoned.

First stop was the “Al Son del Valle,” an exhibition of canastas from 17  villages in the central valleys of Oaxaca.  These are baskets that are carried on the heads of women during calendas (parades); you may remember them from previous posts on the convites in Teotitlán del Valle.  The art of crafting canastas and the traditions and culture they represent have been proudly and lovingly passed down through the generations.

San Antonino Castillo Velasco canasta decorated with Flor Inmortal, the flower that never dies.

Canasta from San Mateo Macuilxóchitl

From San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, these canastas are lit and become pinwheels of fireworks at the end of a calenda.

Canasta of Las Chinas Oaxaqueñas of the city of Oaxaca

Canasta from Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Canasta from Zimatlán de Álvarez made of crepe paper.

Muchas gracias, Oaxaca, I needed that!

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Today is Thanksgiving in los Estados Unidos de América… and besides my wonderful family and friends, I am so grateful to see and experience places like San Antonino Castillo Velasco during los Días de Muertos.

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¡Feliz Acción de Gracias a todos!

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San Antonino Castillo Velasco, a Zapotec community near Ocotlán, is a village known for its flowers.  They are, no doubt, the inspiration for beautifully embroidered linens and clothing sold in the mercados and found in museum collections.  And, a specialty is the “flor inmortal” (immortal flower), so named because, even when dried, it retains its brilliant colors.  They are used to create intricately designed figures on display December 23 in the city of Oaxaca, during Noche de Rábanos and to decorate the graves of  loved ones during Días de Muertos in San Antonino.

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As I’ve previously mentioned, each village seems to have its own unique traditions for the Days of the Dead.  Villagers here mix the area’s very fine dirt with water, cover the graves, use a trowel to smooth it, outline designs and religious imagery into the dried coating, and then use flowers (fresh and dried), to paint the scene.  Entire families are involved, young and old, and the atmosphere is filled with joy, purpose, and most of all… Love.

For a very special moment, that is a metaphor the two days spent at San Antonino, see Chris’s post, Moments make a life..

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