Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The villages of Oaxaca

On the day before I left to do the reverse trip home to San Miguel - we had a driver to go into the countryside to the villages. I could hardly wait to get to the villages and I so regret that I didn't get to any markets in these villages - my favorite thing to do. First we went to Monte Alban where Tom and Moira trekked around and I waited for them..........and then we headed off to the artesan villages of Arrazola to the home of Jimenez; to Ocatlan de Morales to the homes of the Aguilar sisters; and then to Santo Tomas Jalieza which is famous for weavers with back strap looms.
I had started in 1988 reading about Jimenez and the Aguilar sisters. Jimenez is the man who started carving brightly colored "otherworldly" animals. He truly started an industry with his work because he received such accolades and honors and taught so many people in his village this art. Jimenez has since passed on but his grandson was at his house when we arrived unannounced. We were greeted warmly and brought into the house to see his work. I presented him with the newspaper article I had saved since 1988 that appeared in the Houston Chronicle about his grandfather. He was thrilled and could speak English so he began to read the article that also had pictures. I couldn't afford to buy any of his work but it was such an honor to see it in person and to meet part of his family - most of the men were in the fields working.
We then drove directly to Ocatlan de Morales, a Zapotec village, to the home of the Aguilar sisters who create wonderful ceramic pieces of the native women and men and events in their community. I again had saved an article from the Houston Chronicle to give to the family from 1988 and again, a grandson who spoke English received it and quickly went to get his father and mother who were the son-in-law and daughter of the orginal Josefina Aguilar who has since passed on. I met all of the daughters of the woman I had read about 20 years ago and who now create her work. What an honor! I was able to buy some of their work. Onward we went into this village to see the museum that Rodolfo Morales, the great impressionistic Mexican artist had restored. Much of his work is in this building in this tiny village and we were the only people there! Wow, what a treat! The Artes de Mexico magazine #21 has many of his works and great writings about Oaxaca if you're interested.
By now, it was late, we were tired and hungry so we didn't go on to all of the villages we thought we would, but we did stop in Santo Tomas Jalieza. Sooooooooo glad we did. Again we were the only people there to watch the women weaving and then saw the beautiful weavings they had made and had to sell. One table runner takes at least a day to weave - the intricacy is awe inspiring. I was told they start teaching their daughters to weave as early as four years old. That is so wonderful because it would be so terrible to lose this beautiful tradition.
So, from all you have read you can tell that we did a LOT - but there was so much we didn't get to do........another trip HAS to be made! It will probably be at least a year and a half - for Guelaguetza in July - before I return, but afterall, it took me twenty years to get there the first time - I WILL be back!

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