Baskets of innumerable types are sold in abundance in all indigenous markets and in shops. There are rigid laundry baskets with tops (“canastos”), rigid open baskets with handles used for marketing (“canastas”), bird cages, flexible round wastebaskets, and cases for eyeglasses and for money, that are made of palm.
Many, however, come from distant pueblos well beyond the geographical radius we consider: the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Mixteca (in northwestern Oaxaca). The pueblos relatively close to Oaxaca in which baskets are produced are Santa Cruz Papalutla, San Juan Guelavía and Magdalena Teitipac, all to the southeast. These are rarely visited by tourists and are off the beaten path.
Basketry in Oaxaca is not only for tourist consumption, but essential in everyday life. In the marketplace, staples such as grain and corn are measured by the size of the client’s basket, rather than by weight. For this reason ownership of baskets of various sizes is crucial, comparable to our need for a measuring cup. Baskets are also used for carrying and displaying produce, as well as for storage of dirty laundry.