Although I don’t officially begin my fellowship research until tomorrow I went to one of the local handcraft stalls in Oaxaca to ask more about their work as it stuck out as being particularly intricate amongst many others.
Amancio runs the market stall and his family – two brothers, his sister plus their parents all weave and embroider at home.
This embroidery is called the Camino de mise and originates in Puebla. I asked where the designs come from and he explained the motifs and designs are originally inspired from the Tree of Life and fables. He went on to say they have changed over time to meet the demand of tourism – he pointed to a wall hanging with only flowers and leaves saying tourists have preferred these motifs so his family have been concentrating on this design over the past 15-20 years as opposed to the ones with animals. I asked whether this takes away from the tradition of the design and he simply shrugged and said they have to adjust their work to suit the tourist trade.
Amancio and his family are from Teotitlan, as are many weavers are in this area – they hand dye the threads from natural pigments and plants then draw the motif straight onto the cotton cloth before embroidering the pattern in a special crisscross pattern which leaves the back of the cloth with only an outline of the pattern. One piece around 1ftx1ft will take 2 days to finish, the wall hangings will take 6 days and the large bed spread will take 6 months.