Teotitlan

Teotitlan is a great day trip from Oaxaca since it is only about 30 minutes away from Oaxaca and is a beautiul town with a rich cultural history.  It is also a great place to purchase one of the intricately woven tapetes (long rugs) since the town has a long tradition of weaving.  Also the prices will be cheaper if you purchase directly from the craftspeople in Teotitlan rather than in Oaxaca. The best way to travel there is either by car or taking a taxi colectivo.  Many tours of Teotitlan will never actually take you into the village to meet with the weavers, instead you'll visit one of the Casa Grandes where middlemen buy rugs from the weavers and re-sell them at higher prices.  A notable exception is Fundacion en Via, a microfinance tour that will take you directly to the weavers themselves where you can see how they make the tapetes using natural dyes.

It should also be noted that in Teotitlan del Valle and many of the other popular towns and villages that many quote higher prices to members of tour groups since they have arrangements with either the drivers or the tour operators to pay commissions on any sales.  For an idea of what Teotitlan del Valle is like, here is a video of the drive from the outskirts of Oaxaca that ends in Teotitlan:

Teotitlan - the drive to

 

  • Federico Chavez Sosa family weavers

A visit to Teotitlan del Valle to the Federico Chavez Sosa family of rug weavers - Francisco Madero #55 - is a hidden treasure. They go by the public name -- Chavez Santiago Family Weavers, displayed on the yellow sign at the corner of Juarez and F. Madero.  You won't be disappointed. This family is one of only a handful in this famous rug weaving village that is still making and working with all natural dyes. Many rug makers will tell you they use natural dyes when they do not. At the Federico Chavez Sosa studio you will have an opportunity to see the weavers at work and to see dying process techniques and how the variation in color is achieved using plants and insects. The designs are unusual and based on Zapotec ancient designs. The work is of the finest quality you will encounter. The Federico Chavez Sosa family is becoming well known to museum goers and collectors in the United States. Museum shows in the UShave included the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum and the Snite Museum, University of Notre Dame and others. The Federico Chavez studio is off the beaten track. Tour companies do not automatically take you there. A special trip or detour is well-worth the effort. .

Directions:

From Avenida Benito Juarez, turn left on Francisco Madero.  Go down the cobblestones in the second block. The home studio is at the back of the alleyway.  If you can't get to Teotitlan, visit the family's Galeria Fe y Lola, Av. Cinco de Mayo #408, in the historic center of Oaxaca city. Or better yet, call ahead to make an appointment to visit: (951) 524-4078.

  • Tejidos Zapoteco

The Hernandez family and the Vasquez family located at Avenida Juarez  #100. Jesus  Hernandez does wonderful work and will also demonstrate how they prepare the dyes and the wool. The hands-on will show you the work involved: they do not pressure you to make a purchase. Jesus has had gallery showings around the United State including some in New York city, fetching alcolades for his textiles.

  • Fundacion en Via

This microfinance tour will pick you up from a location in Oaxaca and take you on a trip to Teotitlan for the day.  The tour usually includes visiting a woman who has recieved a loan so she could continue the tradition of making tapetes.  On the tour, you'll get a chance to meet 6 of the locals by visiting their homes and seeing what kind of businesses they run to provide for their families. It is a great way to see the local culture and understand what the daily lives of people living there are like. All of the profits from the tour go directly to offering interest-free loans to the local women in Teotitlan.

You can sign up for a tour on their website: www.envia.org/

 

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