This year I was fortunate to be part of two textile study tours of Chiapas organized by Norma Schafer – Oaxaca Culture, who you might remember, contributed two chapters to my “Textile Fiestas of Mexico….a travelers guide”. These tours are intimate adventures into the lives of the traditional weavers and embroiderers of Mexico….so they are usually around 10 travelers. This allows us to visit markets, museums, and private homes with minimum impact. We try and time our visits to the villages surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas so that they coincide with local market days. Often the village officials are present dressed in their magnificent ‘traje’/costumes (we are usually not allowed to photograph either) and the local ladies are dressed in their best textiles. Since I’m a big fan of traditional traje (if you haven’t noticed) then dressed-up ladies sets my textile-loving heart trembling – as well as my eyes darting. It’s so exciting to trail behind these beautifully dressed women, admiring closely their ribbon-braided hair and the way their fajas/belts, tied tightly around several yards of folded or pleated fabric, manage to stay in place.
I want to give an over-view of some of the the amazing things to be seen visiting the markets of Tenejapa, Zinacatan and Chamula so you can get an idea of the variety of textiles and color and textures that will surround you…
MY next post will share visits into artisan homes in Aldama, San Andres Larrainza and a community of widows in Chamula country side.
There is always the possibility of catching a special event and we caught the Carnival festivities. Everyone in RED outfits racing around the Tenejapa plaza with flags…..and whooping! Step back…!!!!! Here they come!
In Zinacatan it was a quieter market and focused on materials for their highly embroidered trajes. Many choices of colored threads and possibilities of custom made garments….
Chamula has the Mayan crosses covered in pine boughs and the mysterious church with Mayan healing ceremonies (which you can’t photograph)but which leave a lasting impression. Outside there with many artisans wares.
NEXT BLOG POST: Visiting Artisans in their homes…..stayed tuned!