Handcrafts steal the show

The Expo de los Pueblos Indígenas (Indigenous Peoples Expo) is an annual event sponsored by Mexico’s National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Communities held at the Expo Reforma. While mostly geared towards “chilangos” (Mexico City natives), it is a worthwhile event for all Mexican folk art enthusiasts.

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Artisan from Chilapa de Alvarez, Guerrero embroidering at the event.
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Huichol man in full regalia

Although set up to highlight what indigenous communities have to offer in food, dance, etc. the handcrafts steal the spotlight, with food coming a distant second. Most of Mexico’s major indigenous groups are represented here, as well as all the major handcraft traditions: textiles, pottery, basketry, woodworking, etc. Artisans come from all over Mexico, including a decent showing from the north of the country and the Yucatan, areas often left out of events such as these.  Not all the products are traditional, as they include new twists on old products and even new products, such as, Christmas ornaments, modern fashion accessories and even bonsai plants.

 

 

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Rag dolls by the Mujeres Mixtecas cooperative of Ensenada, Baja California

All booths are manned by the artisans themselves, allowing for a rare opportunity for most city people to meet and buy from artisan themselves. Most are unknown, but the event does attract some artisans who have covered in publications such as the Banamex Foundation’s Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art. Since the Spanish word for “handcrafted,” artesanal, can also apply to foodstuffs, there are also booths selling locally-produced salsas, vanilla bean products, liquors, coffee, candies and of course, chocolate.

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Masks from Huitzuco, Guerrero at  the 2015 Expo

The 2015 version of the event had over 100 booths, concerts, dance exhibitons, a food court (unfortunately entirely too small and too crowded), exhibitions of vacation options in and near indigenous communities and more. This year’s event will feature a version of Oaxaca’s famous Guelaguetza gala and mariachi singer Aida Cuevas. If you speak Spanish, perhaps one of the best features of the event is staff that is willing and able to provide information and ask questions…. a rarity for a government-sponsored event!

The 2016 version will be held from 16-19 June at the Expo Reforma, Colonia Juarez, just off Paseo de la Reforma

More photos (all photos by Alejandro Linares Garcia)

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Tepecoacuilco, Guerrero pottery
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Shell inlaid items from Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo
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Lacquered plate with gold inlay by Mario Agustin Gaspar at the 2015 event
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