We were thrilled and honored to participate recently in the Fiesta Latina artisan expo, sponsored by Western New Mexico University. It was a pleasure to get to meet many people from the region, and to help visitors to our booth pick out their favorite Mazatec embroideries from the talented women of San Miguel Soyaltepec, Oaxaca. As the artisans were unable to travel to New Mexico to attend the Fiesta, we wanted to share some information about them and where they live.
As many of you know, on September 7, Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec was shaken by a strong earthquake. Numerous communities, such as Juchitan, Niltepec, Union Hidalgo, Matias Romero, Ixtepec, El Espinal, Ixtaltepec, San Mateo del Mar, among others, sustained infrastructure damage, loss of homes, public buildings, and sadly some lives.
At the annual Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca, one dance in particular, is highly anticipated and invariably brings down the house. The “Baile Flor de Piña”, is best described as Radio City Music Hall Rockettes wearing traditional dress from Mexico, carrying a pineapple on their shoulder. The choreography is grand, repetitive and designed for high visual impact. Yet, what really steals the show are the brightly colored Chinantec and Mazatec huipiles worn by the dancers.
Born in Philadelphia in 1914 to Austrian parents, Irmgard arrived to Mexico in 1922 at the age of eight. Her father Robert, a metallurgist, had a keen personal interest in studying native languages and cultures of the Americas. He moved the family to Mexico, where he began his ethnographic and linguistic studies of Mexico’s indigenous people.
Yucatan and its capital Merida have managed to successfully maintain their singular cultural essence and traditions, while simultaneously integrating new elements and contemporary expressions. For example, the tropical, colonial architecture of Merida is being restored to honor its former grandeur, yet it also signals the future.
From our Mexican Rebozo Tour that illuminates the ikat rebozo, an extraordinary cloth and cultural expression of Mexican women, to La Chinantla, Coast and Isthmus of Oaxaca, the Chiapas highlands, Valley of Tehuacan and Sierra Norte of Puebla, we learn about and appreciate the vast and diverse ethnographic landscape of Mexico through its customs in dress and techniques in dyeing and weaving.
Little did I know that when I hopped on the Sprinter van in Veracruz with a group of intrepid travelers from ATMEX, (Adventure Travel Mexico) I’d be learning so many new and fascinating things about Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz! I knew the region was the epicenter of the ancient Olmec and that it was a lush, green land of dormant volcanoes, waterfalls and lakes as I had read.