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Posts Tagged ‘traje’

Yesterday was SO much fun!!!  I’m spending Christmas with family in New York and was invited by my daughter-in-law to speak to her special education class. Wearing one of my huipiles from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca, I filled them in on “life in Oaxaca.”

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We looked at a map of Mexico and I pointed to where the state of Oaxaca is located.

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We spoke a little Spanish and discovered that some familiar foods, like chocolate, gum (chicle), corn (maíz), and turkey (pavo), originated in Mexico.  They learned that there are many artisan crafts made in Oaxaca and I showed them a tapete (rug) that was woven in Teotitlán del Valle.

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We talked about festivals with processions, bands, marmotas, monos, and dancing.  And, to illustrate the diversity of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca, I created a short video from La Guelaguetza 2014.

We discussed the differences between Christmas traditions in Mexico and the USA — that Christmas trees aren’t as common, but most everyone sets up a nacimiento (nativity scene) in their home.

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Of course, they loved the idea of breaking open a piñata filled with candy and trinkets.

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I concluded with a video I’d made and previously posted of the castillo in Teotitlán del Valle during the festival honoring the Virgen del Rosario.  Needless to say, they were awestruck by the fireworks.  And then I gave them each a woven palm leaf piñata ornament.  Alas, no candy inside!

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I was very touched that my daughter-in-law returned home later in the afternoon bringing individualized thank-you notes from the students.  However, I would like to give a big “muchisimas gracias” to her for inviting me and to her students for being such an attentive, engaged, and delightful audience!

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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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The celebration of Día Internacional de los Pueblos Indigenas continues in Oaxaca this weekend, with music, dance, food, and an artisan expo-venta (sale) in Jardín El Pañuelito.  As I walked through the exposition, one woman’s embroidery drew me back for a second look.  I was especially drawn to a huipil that had been hanging next to the one below.  It’s not in this photo, because one of the “Diablos” from the Santiago Juxtlahuaca dance troupe (who were performing later) had already volunteered to climb up on a chair to take it down for her to show to me.

However, before I could get my money out, a delegation of dignitaries came by for a photo shoot.

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This popular and exceptionally talented woman is Carmen Vásquez Pérez, from San Mateo Yetla, Valle Nacional, located 172 kilometers northeast of Oaxaca city in the Papaloapan Region.  According to the article, Mujeres preservan bordado en Yetla, the village is surrounded by waterfalls and lush vegetation and is rich in Chinanteca customs.

P1130484Doña Carmen learned to embroider as a child and has been instrumental in an effort to preserve and promote the local traditional designs and techniques.  As you can see below, her workmanship is exquisite.

P1130489 After returning home and doing a little research, I’m even more pleased with my purchase.  And, by the way, I did not “bargain” — my new treasure is worth every peso of its 600 peso price tag, and then some!

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The Plaza de la Danza was filled with cheering crowds early Sunday evening as ten girls and eight boys from Los Ángeles de Luz took the stage for the 13th edition of this very special Guelaguetza.  Perhaps it is because I have a special needs nephew or that both my sister-in-law and daughter-in-law are special ed teachers that I am drawn to this event every year.  In any case, the joy and pride exhibited by these young people with Down’s Syndrome, as they make the requisite costume changes and perform traditional dances from the eight regions of Oaxaca, always lifts my heart.

I had to leave before it ended, but hopefully through this slideshow I can share a little of the professionalism and accomplishment of these performers and the emotion experienced by those of us who had the privilege of being in the audience.

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President of Los Ángeles de Luz, Flor Verónica García Ávilan explained in El Imparcial, that the group was formed after “realizing that contact with music, dance, and the audience makes them happy, cheerful, communicative, committed and disciplined beings, facilitating their development holistically within society.” [translated from Spanish]

And, I would like to add, for those of us watching their performance, it facilitates our acceptance of those who many be a little different from us.  If you are in Oaxaca for next year’s Guelaguetza festivities, try to attend this heartwarming and uplifting event.  Also, there is always a calenda (parade) a couple of days before AND scrambling for gifts tossed into the crowd after each dance.

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Last Saturday, in the end, it did not rain on the parade.  With only minutes to spare before the first desfile of the Guelaguetza delegations was to begin, the torrential downpour stopped, the rockets sounded, bands played, and the delegates danced their way down Independencia.  I can’t believe how UN-bedraggled and energetic they were!

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Here’s hoping I managed to include one photo from each of the delegations in the slideshow above.

By the way, if you are in Oaxaca and planning to attend the second desfile tomorrow (July 25), see below for the parade route  — it has been changed!

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Before the rains came to put a damper on Saturday’s Guelaguetza pre-parade photo-ops, there were these moments with with moms and dads readying their impossibly cute kids for the desfile.

This last was my favorite moment.  I think dad was hoping for a lovely portrait of his beautiful daughter in all her finery, but as he began to take her digital device away, she gave him a look that said, “If you think your going to get a smile out of me, you’ve got another think coming.”  So, I said, let her keep it — still no smile, but there was another hour before the scheduled start time and parental experience told me, better to keep her occupied!

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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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High in the mountains of the Sierra Norte, the village of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec sits perched on a ridge top in Oaxaca’s Mixe region.  The terrain is rugged and unforgiving; it took rescue crews ten hours, much of it on foot, to reach the municipality following a lethal mudslide at the end of an extremely wet 2012 rainy season.  Eight months later, in May of 2013, when blogger buddy Chris and I ventured up there for their Fiesta de Mayo, we still had to detour around the remains of the slide.

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Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, May 11, 2013.

Despite the harsh conditions and its remote location, Santa María Tlahuitoltepec is home to the Center for Musical Training and Development of Mixe Culture and it is estimated that 70% of the population can read music and many who can’t, play by ear — a source of great pride.

Guelaguetza desfile, July 28, 2012

Guelaguetza desfile, July 28, 2012

In addition to the musical talents of its residents, the village is known for the intricately embroidered blouses the women make and wear.  The design of both the cut of the blouse and the patterns of embroidery are uniquely Santa María Tlahuitoltepec.  If you see someone wearing one on the streets of Oaxaca, you know immediately where it came from.  I have a blouse and Chris bought a couple to decorate the walls of his house.

Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, May 2013.

Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, May 11, 2013.

However, in January of this year Oaxaqueña singer Susana Harp raised the alarm when she tweeted her outrage that the exclusive US department store Neiman Marcus was selling identical copies of the blouses of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec for $290 US dollars (six times what the originals cost in Oaxaca) — without even an acknowledgement of the origin of the designs.  And, last week ReMezcla (a digital publisher, creative agency, and entertainment company targeting Latino millenials) took up the issue of this kind of cultural appropriation with it’s article, The $290 Isabel Marant Huipil Rip Off That Pissed Off Oaxaca’s Mixe Community noting that, “In the case of Isabel Marant’s new ‘bohemian’ Étoile line, however, it’s hard to even muster a flimsy cultural inspiration defense, since the Oaxacan Mixe culture the clothes were ‘inspired’ by have been completely erased from the narrative.”

Dancers in action from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec

I urge you to forgo these and other high-priced knock-offs.  Instead, go to the source and buy originals from the talented artisans who created them.  And, a note to ReMezcla, especially given the subject of your article, I would have appreciated credit for your use of my photograph (above) from the Guelaguetza desfile, that I originally posted July 22, 2013.

Update:  A press conference by municipal authorities and embroiderers from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec was held on June 3 at at the Textile Museum of Oaxaca protesting the lack of respect by Isabel Marant for the creativity and work by the women of Tlahuitoltepec and the history and worldview that gave birth to their designs.

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Feliz Día del Niño (Day of the Child) to children everywhere!

Forever Young
by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

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“Beauty is whatever gives joy.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Some of the beautiful women, young and old, of this year’s Guelaguetza desfiles.

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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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I love arriving early at the assembly site for the Guelaguetza desfile.  There is time to mingle with the delegations as parade participants gather.  Tourists, bloggers, and professionals aren’t the only ones taking photos…

Finishing touches are put on costumes and canastas.

Adjustments are made to sandals and feet are rested before beginning the 3 hour procession through the streets of the city.

We won’t ask what alteration she is making!

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More parade photos to come…

 

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Remember my recent posts from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec up in the mountains of the Mixe?  They are one of the 13 delegations who will be dancing at this morning’s Guelaguetza performance on Cerro Fortín.

Dancers in action from Santa María Tlahuitoltepec

To watch today’s and next Monday’s 10 AM and 5PM performances, click HERE or HERE.   Enjoy!

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Today is Día de los Niños (Children’s Day) and it’s a big deal here.  Oaxaca began her celebrations days ago.  The 6th Festival of Children’s Story Telling opened on Saturday, yesterday an exibition of traditional toys (Colección Hanni Sager Juguete tradicional) had its inauguration at the Museo del Palacio, and Friday, the Guelaguetza Infantil calenda filled the streets from Santo Domingo to the Basilica de la Soledad.

As several bands played, the children from Oaxaca’s preschools wearing the traditional costumes from the 8 regions of the state of Oaxaca waited, posed, walked, danced, and threw candy to the appreciative crowds gathered on the sidewalks along the ten-block long route.  (Note, some of the little girls already practicing holding canastas (baskets) on their heads!)

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Parents and teachers, many also wearing traje from the Cañada, Costa, Istmo, Mixteca, Papaloapan, Sierra Norte, Sierra Sur, and the Valles Centrales regions, proudly walked alongside the children.  Vive Oaxaca concluded their article,

With such events from the early years of life are taught to love our Oaxacan culture, traditions, music and preserve the best legacy we have: our roots. Congratulations to the teachers and parent to correctly perform with great momentum this holiday culture.  [Google translation]

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A mile or two from the city are fields of corn; a recurring reminder of where the masa used to make tortillas, tamales, and other mealtime staples, comes from.  Livestock roam the hills and are often seen being herded down the streets of local villages.

Goats being herded down dirt road

And, at the foot of the stairs of my new apartment is a coyuche bush — the brown cotton plant that has been cultivated in this part of the world for thousands of years.

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The ripe buds of the coyuche have been harvested, cleaned, spun, and woven into huipiles and cotones (men’s shirts) by countless generations.  However, like many textile traditions, industrialization has taken its toll.  The cultivation and use of coyuche is literally hanging by a thread, mostly confined to the Mixteca and Costa Chica regions of Oaxaca.  As a result, besides just liking the design and color, I have a profound appreciation for and treasure this old huipil that was given to me a couple of years ago.

Embroidery detail of huipil made of coyuche

It’s in desperate need of repair.  My friend and Mexican textile collector and chronicler, Sheri Brautigam, advised me to take it to Odilon Merino Morales, who is from San Juan Amuzgo and leads an effort to revive the use of coyuche.  I will ask him if he knows of someone who could give my huipil some tender loving mending.

Living close to the source — there is something wonderful about the coyuche plant’s daily reminder of the origin of one of my favorite huipiles.

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