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Lots of things going on at Abrazo these days! We will update soon on our progress with our work in Oaxaca and Chiapas but in the meantime, a carrot….. If you’ve ever traveled in Oaxaca, the Yucatan or Chiapas, you are familiar with the strange fruits, odd trees and crafts that are unique to this region. Author Svetlana Aleksandroff of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, has recently produced a visual delight of a book that identifies and celebrates the flora, legend and craft of the Mayan culture. “Plants in the Mayan Culture” covers everything from coconuts to incense burners in its richly designed pages, walking the reader through the use and traditions surrounding plants in the region of the Maya. Don’t look for literature but enjoy the visual feast. Check for availability in the US on their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/plantsinthemayanculture
Happy New Year to our friends and supporters of ABRAZOstyle/ Latin Threads! As the year closes we’d like to thank you for your ongoing interest in our work in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico and give you a short update of what we’ve been up to.
My blogs have been painfully few his last year due to all the attention we have been giving to creating a market for our artisans’ work here in the States, but I will endeavor to post more in the coming year…A good New Year resolution, I’d say!
We are very excited to report that we’ve had a fantastic year with very positive growth in the company and in our circle of artisans. Our hand crafted , socially responsible clothing and accessories for the worldly woman are now found in boutiques, specialty gift stores, museum stores, high end garden stores, and even zoos on the west coast, parts of the southwest, the midwest and east coast, but there is still much to be done!
Plans for 2012 include continued growth in the communities we work with in Mexico as well as expanding into larger markets in the US.
The embroidery classes we started in October in our village of San Pablo Etla, Oaxaca have been going extraordinarily well. (See pictures) The group is now up to a maximum size of 15 members with our most advanced students producing hugely improved, beautiful work. Thank you Ayuda (the NGO sponsoring the classes). In the coming year we will be working with the women to help them to create their own designs and products to market through ABRAZO in the States.
We are also continuing to expand our work with families of women in small villages in the highlands of Chiapas. Look for some their new and traditional blouses this spring on our web site along with new designs and colors in our totes and scarves. Lots of surprises coming!
We appreciate your sharing what we do with others and, as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions!
If you are interested in following us on Facebook, just click on this link and you’ll get the latest updates as they happen!
Thank you once again for your interest and encouragement. Abrazos (hugs) from all of us and best wishes for a bright and successful year!
Adele and the ABRAZOstyle Team
Oh, I almost forgot. If you are interested in joining us in Oaxaca this year on a socially responsible shopping tour, please let us know.
It has been awhile and there is much to catch up on with stories of our travels, the evolution of Latin Threads into our new brand, ABRAZOstyle, and of course, updates on our artisans! As we are busier now than ever, I’m afraid I have fallen behind with sharing our journey, my apologies. Please indulge me for a few more weeks, until the holidays, and I will catch up with more news.
Meanwhile, for those of you interested in learning more about the history of the huipil, here is a short description for you. If you are curious to learn more, below I’ve included a link to a fabulous new book about the textiles of the Chiapan highlands. A smaller version of the book with be coming out on Amazon around January.
The huipil, a traditional Mayan garment dating back to 200AD, can best be described as the canvas on which the wearer weaves her or his identity. It is a simple garment made from rectangular pieces of fabric woven on a back-strap loom, which are then folded in half and stitched together with a hole in the middle. Simple in construction but complex in its symbolism, each huipil portrays the celebration of daily life, honors the earth, the gods, the saints, and is a unique and personal statement about its maker. One can determine where the wearer is from, their marital status and even their religious beliefs at a glance.
The tradition of the huipil has been passed from generation to generation, with periods of great artistic flowering, as well as periods when the tradition was at risk of being lost forever. Today, the Mayan textile culture continues to thrive. Styles, colors, and techniques continue to evolve despite the move toward modernity that is ever more prevalent in villages throughout Chiapas and elsewhere in the Mayan world.
Rosita threading her back-strap loom in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
– https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B0f-9JoAPGuCNDNlMTYyMDItYTYwNC00MzViLWIyMDAtODU0YzYyZWQ4Y2M0&hl=en_US <https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B0f-9JoAPGuCNDNlMTYyMDItYTYwNC00MzViLWIyMDAtODU0YzYyZWQ4Y2M0&hl=en_US>
Embarking on an experience living abroad is full of surprises, to put it mildly. I for one, LOVE surprises. My husband always gives me a hard time when life gets complicated living abroad, chiding me when things get rough with comments like ” yes, you are the one who wanted to experience “real” Mexico”…but, to experience the true texture of a place, one needs to be ready for the inconvenient, the embarrassing, and the unknown.
The thing is, we arrive with expectations and an uncontrollable personal “ruler” with which we gauge our lives against those of the people who surround us. …It is hard to avoid, and a little ridiculous to assume, that we can shed our histories to participate in a “new” culture without comparing life to what we know. Even after years in Mexico I catch myself making assumptions about people and life in our village. I assume there will always be running water. I assume people have a cell phones or email addresses. And as for the children, I assume they all can attend school.
The real privilege of living abroad is to experience daily life first hand, in its most raw form, be it good, bad, or ugly. There is no greater way to appreciate every moment of living than to spend time in a foreign culture where even a trip to the grocery store can be full of challenge and gratification! I invite you to seek new experiences in life, to build bridges between the familiar and the unknown, and to know a culture other than your own.
The the indigenous women of Latin Threads Trading are truly amazing. Though the majority of these ladies I work with do not know how to read or write, their hands craft poetry with needle and thread. This last trip to Chiapas impressed me more than ever before.
I had given some of the different groups of women I work with from diverse pueblos around San Cristobal de las Casas creative freedom in embroidering some of LTT’s new blouses. When they came to deliver them, I was stunned by the beauty of the handwork. There seems to be no limit to their talents and creativity within the “language” of the embroidery of their village. Each area is known for its own style of stitching, to the degree that one can tell which pueblo a woman is from based up her clothing.
The same thing happened over and over with different groups in both Oaxaca and Chiapas. As a result, I placed large orders for blouses for this spring in colors and our lovely, always beautiful white on white. Look for the different styles of embroidery as you view our new collections!
Apart from lots of RAIN and terrible, destructive floods and landslides that have been affecting southern Mexico all summer, beauty and the strength of character of these women still prevail. As one woman told me apologetically when she delivered some rather soiled blouses, “My house was filling with water, but I grabbed these as they were floating out the door.” She carefully placed them on the table in front of me and sat back, looking at me with pride.
Good news. There was much less loss of life in the pueblo than first thought.Both of our weavers from the village are well as are their families. I met with Fernando today and he described the town as “a disaster”….
I will catch up tomorrow with a recap of this amazing trip!