“Rescate Seda” – Revival of Silk in Oaxaca, Teotitlan del Valle

Once upon a time in Oaxaca – during the early colonial times, the production of silk was one of the main cultivated products, along with cochineal dye, for export. In the area of the Mixteca, were most of the recorded villages of silk production are located, this persisted until trade with the Spanish colonies of the Philippines replaced it – and a local plague on the silk worms finished it off. But it never completely died in Oaxaca and while silk thread was still special and often reserved for the highest class levels of priests and caciques (chiefs), the humble people still wore silk fajas (belts) and silk symbols and patterns were sometimes woven into of their traditional garments.

When I learned there was a family reviving the cultivation of silk in the nearby rug weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle, the next thing I knew I had signed up for a a video documentary workshop coordinated by Norma Hawthorne’s organization- http://oaxacaculture.wordpress.com/. The teachers were Erica Rothman and Jim Haverkamp, both professional videographers from North Carolina and the Duke Center for Documentary Studies.

This endeavor was all with the idea of visually capturing the revival of silk production in Oaxaca.To say it was an intense 5 days, is an understatement, as it was my first time holding a video camera. My supreme luck was in having, as my partner, Pam Holland. a world class quilt maker and visual artists, so together we accomplished a 7 minute exploration (with a lot of editing help from Jim) telling the story of the  ‘Revival of Silk’ by  Arte Seda (Silk Art) the family business of the  Reynoldo Sosa of Teotitlan del Valle.

This short documentary shows the process of creating a silk scarf, from the tending of the tiny silk worm eggs to the natural dyeing of the finished woven scarf…hopefully answering the initial question, “Why are these things so expensive?”

The Reynoldo Sosa family would be happy to have you visit their home and production place featured in this video. They are located on Av. Juarez # 4, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Tel: (01-951) 52 4 41 19

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6 thoughts on ““Rescate Seda” – Revival of Silk in Oaxaca, Teotitlan del Valle

  1. Fantastic! This is so worth the time and attention. What beautiful work, on the part of artisans and those who document their contribution.

  2. Hi Honey–
    Working on my two(!) shows back to back in two weeks. In the meantime off on a college trip back East! I am entranced by the Maiwa Symposium. Maybe I should hold off coming to NM and meet you there. There are a couple of workshops I would love to take. Food for thought. Let’s talk soon—love HB

  3. Sheri created a fantastic documentary video of the silk growing and weaving cycle with her teammate Pam Holland. I think it is one of the best documentaries around that explains the process. I hope everyone who read this will click on the YouTube link and forward it to friends! Norma Hawthorne

  4. I will be in Mexico City for 13 hours only [layover].

    I wish to find something special there, that is practical, a shawl like those shown here in the photo of the brown and and creme colored ones. They look like silk [?], would be so sweet to find something of the like.

    Any recommendations for place[s] to purchase special textiles that are practical in Mexico City? Not too elaborate, although I appreciate the artistry of those that are well decorated also!

    Thank you for any replies

    • Are you ready for this? I asked my good friend Patrice Wynne of San Miguel who is the consummate connoisseur of Mexico City.
      Where to go shopping in Mexico City in 13 hrs. Here’s what she says:

      The name of the artisans market is LA CIUDADELA. Advantages: super easy to get to from Centro Historico and airport and not so large that ypu can’t do it in a few hours, though it is a bit labryinthian. There isa lot of variet of indignous clothing, NOT textiles per se (you’ll find rebozozs) and they have the lowest prices in DF

      MAP (Museo Arte Popular) which is also downtown has fabulous textiles, some of the best and most comprehensive in DF, but pricesare easily 25% higher, if not more! (BUT you might find these rebozos there) Combined with the museum tour of their textiles, it would be a lovely way to spend the day. Also, El Cardinal, considered one of the best restaurants in DF, is around the corner INSIDE the Hilton Hotel lobby. There are two, so be sure she goes to this one an here – they stop serving at 5pm but close at 6pm.

      Nearby is Museo de Franz Mayer, a tesoro of peace and textiles of the Colonial period.

      Yes, Remegio Mestes Store is THE place for BEST textiles from Oaxaca and, if she wants to take home something exquisite, that is the place to go. Second floor shops are all fabulous, chef owned top restaurants on ground floor. Best one, Azul Historico. Visit Culinaria Mexicana for a selection of my aprons from San Miguel Designs, which she might like to know about or purchase

      OK that ought to fill your needs. The raw-hand-spun silk rebozos you are looking at are VERY expensive – but you will find other REBOZOS that are not. Let me know how your adventures go.

  5. Pingback: Felted Fabric Fashion Oaxaca Style | Oaxaca Cultural Navigator : Norma Hawthorne

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