Chatino Textiles from Oaxaca at Santa Fe Trunk Show

By Norma Schafer

The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market runs from Friday night to Sunday afternoon the second weekend of July each year. Festivities start days in advance with galleries and retail shops all over town featuring artisan trunk shows from various parts of the world. (Mark your 2017 calendar for July 14, 15, 16)

3Blusas
La Chatina! Vintage blouses. Embroidered + crocheted. Photo from Barbara Cleaver

Barbara Cleaver brought a collection of vintage Chatino blouses to La Bohemeclothing gallery on Canyon Road, and anyone with a connection to Oaxaca showed up to see what was in store.

blousedetail
Cross-stitch Chatina blouse detail. Photo from Barbara Cleaver

Barbara, with her husband Robin, run the Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido, and are long-time residents of both Santa Fe and Oaxaca. The coffee farm they manage is not far from the Chatino villages near the famed pilgrimage site ofJuquila.

Chatino people have close language and cultural ties to the Zapotec villages of the Oaxaca valley. Their mountain region is rich in natural resources and many work on the organic coffee farms that are an economic mainstay. About 45,000 people speak Chatino. Hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects are still spoken in Oaxaca, which make it culturally rich and diverse. This is reflected in the textiles!

Barbara has personal relationships with the women embroiderers of the region and what she brought to show was the real deal!

ChatinaWoman
Chatina women wears an extraordinary embroidered blouse. Photo from Barbara Cleaver.

The blouses are densely embroidered with crocheted trim.  The older pieces are fashioned with cotton threads and the needlework is very fine. Newer pieces reflect changing times and tastes, and include polyester yarns that often have shiny, gold, silver and colored tinsel thread.

We see this trend in other parts of Mexico, too, including the more traditional villages of Chiapas where conservative women love to wear flash!

The shoulder bag — called a morral — is hand-woven and hand-tied (like macrame), and equally as stunning.

KarenElwellmorral
Chatino shoulder bag, called a morral. Photo by Karen Elwell

Karen Elwell, whose Flickr site documents Oaxaca textiles, says that the flowers and birds border (above) are machine stitched and the parrots and flowers (below) are hand-knotted from the warp threads of the woven bags.

Barbara has many examples of these. I was just too busy looking to take good photos!

VivaLaChatina
Invitation to La Boheme trunk show pre-Folk Art Market

Originally published in Oaxaca Cultural Navigator blog

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