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Posts Tagged ‘traditional blouses’

Today, March 19, we celebrate Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos. Apparently anticipating this day, in less than one month I have purchased three beautiful hand woven blouse length huipiles — and they each have a story.

On a walk up Macedonio Alcalá, en route to somewhere else, my neighbor Kalisa and I stopped to say hi to her favorite textile street vendor, Vicente, at his stall just beyond Santo Domingo. My eye was immediately drawn to the subtle color combination and style of the huipil above. As it turns out, it, unlike most of the textiles he had in stock, was dyed with natural dyes (including the rare caracol) and woven by his mother who lives in the Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in the Mixtec region.

The indigo and coyuche brocade huipil above is from the Mixtec village of Pinotepa de Don Luis and was the first in my trio of purchases. It was woven by a woman named Sebastiána and I bought it in response to an appeal by Stephanie Schneiderman to help support the weavers of that area during these pandemic days. It spoke to me the minute I saw it among the selection of huipiles for sale. Stephanie helped facilitate shipping it from Pinotepa de Don Luis to Oaxaca city and within a couple of weeks, it was hanging in my closet.

The third of my huipil purchases was another impulse buy. For several months, on Friday mornings, Kalisa and I have been making the trek up to the Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal in Colonia Reforma to stock up on fabulous fresh produce from the Sierra Norte, the occasional duck and chicken, cheeses, and fun shaped clay garden pots. However, the vendor of the plants and pots also sells a selection of huipiles from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca and I fell in love with this Chinanteco one.

¡Feliz Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos!

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As I’ve previously written, two separate (and battling) French designers were exposed as plagiarizing the traditional embroidery designs of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, a village in the mountainous Mixe region of Oaxaca.

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However, at last there is a triumph for the embroiderers and the time-honored motifs handed down from their ancestors and inspired by the land — A Court Rules High-End French Label Doesn’t Own Rights to Indigenous Oaxacan Design.

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The people of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec may not be financially wealthy, but they and their community are rich in culture and pride in their history and traditions.  They are not angling for a monetary settlement — all they want is that their work and designs be recognized and respected.

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While we are on the topic of disrespect of indigenous peoples, we have the recent disgraceful Coca-Cola México advertisement, showing Hipsters Bringing Soda To Indigenous Mexicans — another Mixe village, Totontepec Villa de Morelos.  After an immediate social media campaign challenged the ad, Coca Cola pulled it.  As this teleSUR article details, This New Coca Cola Ad Shows Mexico’s White Savior Problem.  In addition, like the USA, obesity is growing problem here, thus a Reply to Coca-Cola comes in new video by the Alliance for Food Health featuring two Mixe students speaking about the health risks posed by these kinds of “soft drinks” that lack any nutritional value.

By the way, the English language Mexico News Daily is running a poll, asking if you “agree that the controversial Coca-Cola Christmas video was racist or offensive?”  And, I’m appalled that as I write, the results are:  32% yes and 68% no!!!

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Blogger buddy Chris and I have been talking about returning to Santa María Tlahuitoltepec since our first visit in May 2013.  Time flies when you’re having fun and it took the current Theft of a cultural kind controversy to motivate us to hit the long and winding road up into the Mixe.  To reach our our journey’s end in the Sierre Norte, our road trip took a little over two and a half hours from the city — on a much improved route 179, I might add.

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Reaching the center of town, known for its musical literacy and textiles, Tejas, a youth band, was warming up on the multipurpose municipal basketball court.

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Their performance was part of the Domingos de Concierto (concert Sundays).  We joined villagers to watch and listen.

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Most all of the women “of a certain age” were wearing the traditional dress that is a symbol of this community.

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However, our stomachs began grumbling and led us in search of comida.  The comedor we had been directed to wasn’t open but there were women sitting under the portales selling tamales.  This gal’s amarillo tamales (3 for 10 pesos) were muy sabrosos!

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Once we had eaten, fed a couple of street dogs the crumbs (until a woman walking softly and carrying a big stick, chased them away), and our energy levels were restored, we walked across the street to the sextagonal textile kiosk — the day’s destination.

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We headed to Artesanias Kojpk Okp, the tiendita of Doña Honorina Gómez Martínez, the embroiderer we had met on our previous visit to Tlahuitoltepec.  Ahhh, yes, she was well aware of the Inspiration or plagiarism dispute with French designer, Isabel Marant, that even Vogue UK has covered.  As I later discovered, she spoke for the embroiderers at the press conference held at Oaxaca’s Textile Museum ten days ago.

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This spirited, strong, and delightful woman has been embroidering for 46 years and, as she explained at the press conference, “my heart tells me what I’m going to embroider because I have it in memory, born with that idea or feeling, experience, it is the daily life as Mixe.  It is a representation of blood, food, and nature. ” [translated from the original Spanish]

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She recognized us and she and her assistant (husband? son?) were more than willing to plunge into piles of her creations, pull down blusas hanging on the walls, and dismantle displays.  Here is the blusa and ceñidore I came home with…

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Should you be inclined to go to the source, but can’t manage a trip up into the Mixe, as always, she will have a stall in July at the special artisan market in Oaxaca city during La Guelaguetza.  She can also be contacted by telephone:  01 283 596 26 05 and cell:  951 198 79 42.

Stay tuned for a blog post on Oaxaca-The Year After…  (Chris has a lot more photos to weed through!)

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