The meeting today was amazing.
This connection had all come about because a friend, of a friend … of a friend …had heard about the project I am doing so had passed on my info to Marcos who is the creator of ‘Khadi Oaxaca’
Unfortunately as they are so busy with a show on the day we could fit in a visit, Marcos wasn’t able to meet in person, although I am hoping we can have a meeting via Skype as I would love to find out more about his story and vision. Before arriving this was all the info I had (hence why I was so determined to find a way to get to see them!, which ended up having to negotiate taxis and random bus rides in the back of cargo trucks to even get up there).
“We live in a small village working with over 200 woman spinning and weaving in the spirit of Mahatma Ghandi’s ideal of cottage industry.
We create sacred weaving’s of wearable cloth. We would be honored to share with you our work and vision”
On arrival in the village there was an overwhelming distinct beauty about the place, lots of lush forrest, flowers and greenery . We had to navigate down steep little roads and finally arrived at our destination which was a stunningly beautiful little cottage tucked into the mountain with views looking over the mountains which is actually Marcos house. We were greeted by Elisio, one of the people working for Khadi and he told us a little more information about the business and how it was through travelling to India that had given Marcos the inspiration to begin the business.
In India, Khadi is not just a cloth, it is a whole movement started by Gandhi. The Khadi movement promoted an ideology, an idea that Indians could be self-reliant on cotton and be free from the high priced goods and clothes which the British were selling to them. The British would buy cotton from India at cheap prices and export them to Britain where they were woven to make clothes. These clothes were then brought back to India to be sold at hefty prices. The khadi movement aimed at boycotting foreign goods including cotton and promoting Indian goods, thereby improving India’s economy. Mahatma Gandhi began promoting the spinning of khādī for rural self-employment and self-reliance.
Marcos asked local carpenters to replicate the Gandhi spinning wheel from a photograph and Elisio was one of the people he showed how to use it. Five years later and they now employ weavers all over the village to work from home.
We got a demonstration of how they make the thread all the way from beginning with separating the cotton from the seed, carding, rolling and then the pure magic of spinning it into thread. He also explained that the cotton they use is pure and organic and completely free from chemicals.
The next part was down in the workshop where there was big pots boiling away, the cotton is boiled for an hour with natural dyeing materials like bark or flowers and then hung out to dry. Then finally he showed us the peddle looms where the cotton thread is woven into lengths of pure cotton fabric.
It was truly incredible seeing this whole process come to life from start to finish, here on the side of a mountain in Mexico.
Elisio showed us some of the finished items which are beautiful, some of them have embroidery over the woven cloth and he explained that there are people employed all over the village who do the embroidery from home and if we wanted we could visit a few of them. We walked up and around paths and got to see a bit more of this amazing village and met a lady working on embroidering an eagle one of the huipils.
Then another walk through the land (everyone seemed to be connected through small paths) we were introduced to another lady who sat weaving with a traditional back strap loom. She told us she is 84 and has been weaving her whole life. When we asked if we could take a photo, she declined saying she had never had photos taken of her, I wanted to say how beautiful she looked with red ribbons plaited into her long black hair but I just smiled at her instead. It was so peaceful watching her work away, so content with her handwork. Valuing this way of life is what this is all about.