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This year marks the 80th anniversary of the modern Guelaguetza festival in Oaxaca.  The calendar is filled with official Guelaguetza activities and other events that take advantage of the massive annual influx of tourists (especially from other parts of Mexico).  The colorful and distinctive costumes worn by the Guelaguetza delegations from each of the 8 regions of the state of Oaxaca play a major role in wowing visitors and residents — including, me!

Huipil de San Andrés Chicahuaxtla, Putla Villa de Guerrero, Oax.

As a result, the “Oaxaca Xaba Lulá” exhibition has been mounted in the Government Palace.

Traje de la Villa Sola de Vega, Oax.

These are only a fraction of the items on exhibit and the photos were chosen primarily because they showed the least amount of reflection on the plexiglass display cases.  It is a beautiful, but challenging to photograph, setting!

Huipil de San Bartolomé, Ayautla, Teotitlán, Oax.

The collection of trajes típicos (typical costumes) representing the 8 regions of Oaxaca runs through the end of the month.

Rebozo de San Juan Colorado, Jamiltepec, Oax.

The dresses, hats and accessories were donated by Oaxacan citizens from different regions of the state and were made in the traditional way, with many using natural dyes.

Huipil de Gala de San Lucas Ojitlán, Tuxtepec, Oax.

At the July 6 opening, José Zorrilla de San Martin Diego (Minister of Tourism and Economic Development), explained that they reflect a cultural essence that has prevailed for centuries in customs and traditions of the people of Oaxaca.

Funda de San Jerónimo Tecoátl, Teotitlán. Oax.

He observed that the Oaxacan costumes are a reflection of the depth of the culture, traditions, and ancestral weaving techniques that have been passed from generation to generation of Oaxacan hands.

Traje de Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Mixe, Oax.

“The huipiles display in all their splendor the details that form a labyrinth of colors, a tiny universe that reflects the vastness of fertile nature and the symbolism that characterizes our native land and which graces the greatest festival of Oaxacaños,” Zorrilla de San Martin Diego very poetically suggested.

Huipil de Jalapa de Díaz, Tuxtepec, Oax.

Needless to say, during the next two weeks, I’m going to try to hit as many of the fairs, parades, dances, and exhibitions as possible.  Stay tuned…

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Early Saturday morning I was on my way to the doctor’s office, thus walking with purpose.  However, turning onto Constitución, along the south side of Santo Domingo, I had to pause…

Man and woman in stylized Aztec costume in jewel tones.

A photo shoot in progress?  I didn’t actually have a doctor’s appointment, just dropping by for a consultation (common here), so I lingered.

HE was obviously modeling “glamed-up” Aztec.  But SHE…

Woman in stylized Aztec costume in jewel tones.

Hmmm… Japanese???  Of course not!  Comparing it to images found in the codices, it, too, is an extremely stylized expression of  the fashion and hair of some classes of Aztec women.

Close-up of woman wearing purple silk huipil and stylized Aztec hairdo.

¡Muy hermosa!

Update:  I think Sheri is probably correct.  This may be a promotion for, or at least evoke, the annual reenactment of the Donají la leyenda, during Guelaguetza.  It is the legend of Princess Donají, a Zapotec princess who was kidnapped and decapitated by rival Mixtecos.  Her beautiful head was later found intact by a shepherd under a lily.  The body and head were reunited and buried together near, what is now, the city of Oaxaca’s airport.   The face of Donají appears on the official shield of the city of Oaxaca de Juárez.

Official shield of Oaxaca de Juárez.

The elevation and celebration of this story makes me wonder how today’s Mixtecos feel about it…

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My mom was a folk dancer.  She had studied ballet, tap, and acrobatic dancing when she was young and brought that training and muscle memory along with her when she took up folk dancing in her mid thirties.  I spent many hours over the years watching her dance; the Kamarinskaya from Russia, Swedish Hambo, Fandango from Portugal, Mexico’s Jarabe Tapatio, and so many more.  In addition to being a talented dancer, she made her own costumes.  A dressmaker’s dummy was a permanent fixture in her bedroom, yards of colorful cotton fabric and braid were piled next to the sewing machine, and in the evenings her hands and eyes were often occupied embroidering pieces for a new costume.

Mom died in 1989, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  So, on this Mother’s Day, this is for you mom…

Multicolored huipil with peacock design

Guatemala

Jewel toned embroidered huipil with peacock design

Zinacatán, Chiapas, Mexico

Black skirt embroidered on the diagonal with flowers

Zinacatán, Chiapas, Mexico

Black dress with gold-tone embroidery on sleeve and bodice.

San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca, Mexico

Geometric yellow and red embroidery on purple skirt with lace bottom

Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

Close up of the back of a brightly embroidered huipil on black velvet

Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

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When I was a child and asked, “If there is a Mother’s Day and a Father’s day, why isn’t there a Children’s Day?”  My mother’s usual reply was, “Everyday is children’s day!”  Hmmm… I never did buy her explanation, until I had kids of my own.  However, here in Mexico, there is a day to celebrate children and today is that day — Día del Niño, a day when children are made to feel special.

Schools organize parties with games and treats instead of lessons, parents may give their niños y niñas gifts, and special community activities for kids are organized.  Yesterday, here in the city, the Service Workers Union threw an all day party for 5,000 children in the annex of the Eduardo Vasconcelos baseball stadium.  There were box lunches, candy (of course), a petty zoo, games, shows, and even a raffle for new bicycles.

So, here’s to the girls and boys of Oaxaca…

girl sitting and smiling with 2 front teeth missing

To their good humor.

Boy with a hat and scarf on head

Their pride in celebrating their communities…

Girl in Istmo huipi

Their beauty…

Boy in plaid shirt and red scarf

Their amazing patience…

Girl sitting and looking sad

Even when they are shy and tired.

Young child, barefoot standing next to a car

And, especially to the street children, who, despite the challenges of their lives, seem to find ways to “just be kids.”

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Every time I pass by the turnoff to Tlacolula de Matamoros, I break into song, “Be-bop-a-lula, she’s my baby.”  And, seeing this guy on the front of a building on one of the town’s main streets only contributes to channeling Gene Vincent.

Wall art of tuba player

I was last there early this month for the first Festival de la Nieve, Mezcal y Vinagre.  Ice cream, mezcal, and fruit and veggies in vinegar… what’s not to like?

Bottles of mezcal

And then there is the weekly Sunday tianguis (market), where women in colorfully embroidered cotton aprons over tightly pleated polyester brocade skirts (where did that style come from?) buy and sell everything under the sun.

3 women in embroidered aprons.

As the article, The Pop-up Food Shops of Oaxaca confirms, I’m not the only one who is captivated by Tlacolula.

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Friday was a delightful day… a late morning and early afternoon spent in leisurely conversation with one of my closest friends over desayuno at Cocina Economica Isabel, a stop at the Merced mercado to pick up some pan dulce, and a stroll through the Zócalo, before returning home.  I envisioned a late afternoon and evening of visiting with my neighbor before she is heads north for a USA visit, catching up on email, and watching a movie.  Perfection, I thought!  Who could ask for more?

“More” came via my email inbox; notice of the 10th Guelaguetza Infantil, with a calenda (parade) from Santo Domingo de Guzmán to the Zócalo beginning at 6 PM.  This definitely called for a change of plans!  And, sure enough, as I got closer to Santo Domingo, there they were; delegations of children representing the regions of Oaxaca.

Girl and boy in costume of the Istmo.

Istmo de Tehuantepec couple (a young Frida Kahlo, perhaps?) posing for photos.

Girl in Istmo costume covering her ears

There were several bands playing and it got a little too loud for this girl from the Istmo.

Girl in Tuxtepec costume holding basket of candy.

However this girl, representing the Papaloapan, didn’t seem to mind and was ready to toss candy to the crowd. She wasn’t alone — once the calenda started, candy began flying fast and furious and the pockets of the kids watching on the sidelines began bulging!

Girl wearing a costume from the Costa regionGirls from the Costa region received last-minute instructions.

Boys in white shirts and straw cowboy hats holding school banner reading "Cervantes"

Costa boys were charged with holding up their school banner.

Close up of girls in the costumes from Tuxtepec

The girls representing the Papaloapan clutched plastic pineapples, ready for the always popular Flor de Piña dance from Tuxtepec.

2 girls standing together; one in Istmo costume and one in Tuxtepec costume

A little cross cultural comparing of notes (actually, cell phone games) was happening between the Istmo and Papaloapan.

Girl in Mixteca costume dancing.

All the while, the dancers from the Mixteca danced their way down the Álcala.

Closeup of boy with Danza de la Pluma head dress.

And, the young Danza de la Pluma danzantes, representing the Valles Centrales, carefully balanced their penachos (headdresses).

Tonight at 5 pm, these 300 kids from 52 preschools, will perform traditional regional dances in the auditorium of the Universidad Regional del Sureste, Rosario campus in San Sebastián Tutla.

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