Sunday, September 4, 2016

We've been to the village of Teotitlan de Valle twice.  This village is famous for its weaving, which is sold all over Oaxaca.  Here's a particularly nice example:

Our first visit was in early July, when we went to visit Indigo's second grade teacher, who was visiting her family there. We saw a Guelaguetza parade, which I previously posted some video of. (I'd link to it if I could, but instead you'll just have to scroll down.)

The Guelaguetza festival consists of dancers from each of the different regions of the state of Oaxaca, representing different indigenous groups and traditions of dance. Teotitlan's traditional dance is Danza de las Plumas, which consists of these guys dancing with these huge round things on their heads, like in the video.

The women march with various types of religious artworks on their heads. It's interesting how, when you go to these parades and festivals in the villages, they all start at the church and involve a lot of religious symbolism, but the big parades and performances in the city of Oaxaca focused only on the dancing, without the religious elements. The role of the church in Mexican life is complicated.

The little girls also get into the act, but with smaller displays on their smaller heads.

Globos -- balloons, but in this case made from cloth -- were featured in all the Guelaguetza festivities we went to.

Everyone in town, it seems, had made something or other to parade with.

Indigo spent some time hanging out with some cousins of the friend we were visiting, watching the parade.

Our second trip to Teotilan was in mid-August. We went particularly because they were having a fair and we wanted to buy some tapetes -- the woven wool rugs that Teotitlan is famous for.

We bought this tapete for Indigo -- it's an "Arbol de Vida," or Tree of Life, a very common image. She liked this one because it has lots of animals, including deer. All of the traditional patterns symbolize something.

For example, this is the one we bought, and there is a complicated story about this design. Each step symbolizes a stage of life and then reincarnation (because each spiral leads into another, or something like that). I know this only because the store where we bought it, like most of the places where they sell stuff outside the central market, is not only a store but also the home and workshop of a family, all of whom are involved in making stuff. When we went to buy this tapete, the family invited us to see their looms.

The young man who made this tapete asked Indigo if she'd like to try to weave, and of course she did. He spent almost an hour weaving with her, while Amy and I talked to his brother, who showed us different tapetes and explained the story behind the pattern on each one.

My favorites were the star patterns. He explained that his grandmother always knew what time it was, even though she never owned a watch or clock. She told time by the position of the sun during the day and the stars at night. He said he was always amazed when he came home late and she would yell at him,  "you were supposed to be home by 11 pm, and it’s almost 2 in the morning."

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