Cultural appropriation is a loaded and complex concept we often come across. Given the power of social media, much discussion is generated, especially when a new case of a designer or other outlet, integrates elements deemed to be cultural patrimony into their designs. Global influence on the world of fashion is not new
Laca or maque, lacquerware is an ancient technique and art form in Mexico. Laca, from the Persian term lak, (evolved to shellac), and maque, from the Japanese term, maki-e, and from the Arab word “sumac”, is a functional and decorative art, developed to create a protective coating or veneer over a surface, making it impermeable and beautiful.
There is a unique and singular art form in Mexico, found in regions of Jalisco, Zacatecas, Hidalgo and other States, called “piteado”. One town in particular, Colotlán, Jalisco, takes the claim as the, “Capital Mundial del Piteado”, not only for the number of people dedicated to this work, but also for the quality of their workmanship.
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.