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Posts Tagged ‘indigenous textiles’

I have returned to my hometown for my 50th high school reunion.  (How could I possibly be that old?!)  Whenever I come up to the USA, I make a point of bringing a little Oaxaca love with me.  So, this trip I brought my three newest textile treasures to wear.

First, a modern asymmetric take on a traditional huipil — designed, dyed, and woven on a backstrap loom by Moisés Martínez Velasco from San Pedro Cajonos in the Villa Alta region of the Sierra Norte.  Villagers cultivate and harvest the silk worms and spin the silk used in making this beautiful piece.

I also packed a recently purchased traditional blusa from the Mixtec village of San Pablo Tijaltepec.  The blouses from this village are made from cotton manta and hand-embroidered with images of birds, animals, plants, and elements of nature in geometric patterns.  The blouses take up to one and a half months to make.  I wore it to the reunion picnic on Sunday and it received several compliments.

And, last but not least, I brought this elegant silk huipil with cotton chain-stitch hand embroidery designed by celebrated poet, Natalia Toledo.  Honoring the traditional huipiles of her birthplace in Juchitán de Zaragoza in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, yet bringing her own design esthetic to her label Teka, this woman of many talents works with seamstresses and embroiderers from the Isthmus and Central Valleys of Oaxaca to create one-of-a-kind pieces.  I wore this to Saturday night’s reunion at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge beside the San Francisco Bay — and it was perfect!

Besides the designs, colors (lately, I seem to be binging on burgundy), and handmade aspect of the work, I especially appreciate that I was able to meet and purchase each piece directly from its creator.

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Artisans from the eight regions of Oaxaca have moved their hand-crafted textiles, pottery, wood carvings, jewelry, and more into the previously mentioned booths near the top of the Andador Turístico (Alcalá/walking street) and Paseo Juárez el Llano (Llano Park).  Not all the signs are in place, but the artisan vendors are.  The exposition and sale will run through the last Guelaguetza performance (August 1), so today’s mission was just to do an initial reconnaissance — to check out new vendors, see what I absolutely cannot live without, and connect with some of my favorite vendors.

Samuel Bautista Lazo

First up were the artisans in Llano Park, where I rendezvoused (stall #70) with my old (though he’s young) friend, Samuel Bautista Lazo, from Teotitlán del Valle.  As I’ve mentioned before, I met Sam and his family during my first visit to Oaxaca in 2007 and (of course) bought two tapetes to bring back to the San Francisco Bay Area.  The rugs returned to Oaxaca with me when I moved here in 2009.  Between then and now, Sam has gotten his Ph.D. in Sustainable Manufacturing at the University of Liverpool (yes, England!), returned to Oaxaca, and is currently helping his family market and manage Dixza Rugs & Organic Farm — their weaving and Bed & Breakfast business.

Daughter of Amalia Martínez Casas

At one of the stalls along the Alcalá, I spotted the unmistakable work of Amalia Martínez Casas from Tamazulápam del Espíritu Santo, a mountain village in the Mixe.  Alas, it was her daughter staffing the booth.  She assured me that Amalia’s health was okay, but that she’s getting old and had decided not to make the tiring journey down from the mountains into the city.  I have several huipiles and a serape of Amalia’s but I must admit, I am very tempted to add another piece to my oft-worn collection.

Honorina Goméz Martínez

Lastly, I stopped by to greet Honorina Gómez Martínez and Pablo Martínez Martínez from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, also in the Mixe, and just a few miles up the mountain from Tamazulapam.  It never ceases to amaze me how clothing styles vary dramatically in Oaxaca, not only from region to region, but also from village to village, within the same region.  You may remember, Doña Honorina Gómez was a leading spokesperson in the plagiarism dispute with a couple of French designers, which the embroiderers of Tlahuitoltepec eventually won and which prompted Oaxaca’s congress to declare indigenous costume and language as part of the state’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”

However, a new charge of plagiarism is being reported— this time, against Argentine designer Rhapsodia — for copying designs from San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  When I return to the expoventa in the next couple of days, I will have to ask one of the artisans from San Antonino about it.  Besides, I’ve always coveted a dress from San Antonino.

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Last Friday, I walked over to the B&B, El Diablo y la Sandía and walked into the highlands of Chiapas.

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It was the first of a 3-day expoventa of textiles by El Camino de los Altos

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and Chamuchic, two weaving collectives from Chiapas.  Their colors and designs are sophisticated and I wanted them all!

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Alas, the budget limited me to two pillow covers that have joined two solid colored brocaded covers that I bought at a similar expoventa a year and a half ago.

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I think they look great under my beautiful poncho woven by Amalia Martínez Casas.

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Congratulations to one of my favorite weavers, Amalia Martínez Casas from the mountain village of Tamazulápam del Espíritu Santo, winner of the 13th Popular State Art Prize “Benito Juarez” 2013.  The award, presented several days ago by Oaxaca governor Gabino Cue, recognized and honored her work using the backstrap loom, using cotton thread and wool dyed with indigo and banana peel, to weave the traditional costume of Tamazulápam in the Mixe.

Three or four times a year, an artisan fair is held in Llano Park.  Puestos upon puestos of pottery, wood carved alebrije, jewelry, and textiles are on display.  It was here, two years ago, where I first discovered the exquisite work of the tiny and talented weaver, Amalia Martínez Casas.

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I couldn’t resist buying this huipil; a subtle black on charcoal grey that looks both traditional here in Oaxaca and very hip with black leggings and boots in el norte.

And, then the next time, even though the dye was a little uneven, I couldn’t resist buying this short huipil — the color had me at, hola!

Her well-crafted technique and finely drawn designs are sophisticated, be they executed in subdued huipiles or brilliant red serapes.

Every time I wear one of her works of art, people ask, “Where is it from?”  “Who made it?”  “Where can I get one?”  I’ve pointed several friends to her stall in Llano Park during artisan fairs and last week, at the request from a friend in California, I bought this one.  The slight green tint will be perfect with her red hair.  (Yes, this one’s for you, Louise!)

Photos of the award ceremony can be found HERE and video is available HERE.  (Amalia Martínez Casas can be seen beginning at 6:00 minutes.)  And, for more of her creations, check out a blog post Chris did last January.

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For lovers of textiles and Mexico, the latest online issue of the magazine, HAND/EYE (love the title!), has a terrific interview with friend and textile designer/collector/researcher, Sheri Brautigam.  The article, Documenting the Lives of Textiles, covers a wide range of topics, including preservation and revival of traditions and concerns re traditional versus modern designs.  As would be expected, given the subject matter, it includes lots of photos!

 

Documenting the Lives of Textiles

BY Annie Waterman | October 10, 2012

Close-up of traditional shawl

Courtesy of Sheri Brautigam

An Interview with Sheri Brautigam

Textile expert, Sheri Brautigam, shares with HAND/EYE Online, her experience as a documenter of “living” indigenous textiles. 

HAND/EYE: How did you first find yourself in Mexico and documenting “living” indigenous textiles?

Sheri Brautigam: I went to the university in Mexico City in the 60’s and that was the beginning of my lifelong relationship and many in-depth experiences with Mexico. This time, I was training Mexican English teachers through the English Language fellowship with the U.S. State Department—sort of like the English Teachers’ Peace Corps. My location was in a small town in the State of Mexico—Atlacomulco, surrounded by many different indigenous villages. When I went to a nearby village Mazahua ‘Saints Day’ festival and saw the amazing garments the ladies were wearing, I started my documentation.

H/E: How did you first get into becoming a researcher/ textile collector?

SB: I had a textiles design studio (surface design textiles) in San Francisco for about 18 years, so I had been collecting world textiles since the 1960s. That was when they were readily available from world travelers. I have loved and been involved with textiles most of my life and always want to know how these beautiful things are made … and now in Mexico, it’s even more exciting to see them in context. 

H/E: What sort of future do you predict for the world of traditional textiles? What changes have you noticed over the years? 

SB: I’m very hopeful that many traditional Mexican textiles will survive and become even finer. This I have seen in Oaxaca and Chiapas. When appreciation comes from the outside world and the artisans can earn money, they have an incentive to keep producing. The more money they can earn from superior work also encourages some artisans with higher skills to train their children. The more affluent indigenous people become, the more pride they have in their own culture and the continuation of their textile traditions.

Certainly some of the indigenous will leave their village and go to the towns and cities to work and wear jeans and t-shirts—but when they come home they will wear a huipil for the feast day. It’s their cultural identity.

Click HERE to read full article.

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