Santa Cruz Papalutla
Santa Cruz Papalutla, a remote pueblo 27 kilometers (approximately 35 minutes) from Oaxaca, lies along the same highway that leads to Teotitlán del Valle, the archaeological site of Yagúl, the memorable Sunday market of Tlacolula and the ruins and weaving town of Mitla. After turning off to the right, a journey of eleven kilometers remains on frequently unpaved streets through small, little-known pueblos heavily populated with cornfields: Lachigoló and San Sebastián Abasolo. This is a route rarely traveled by tourists. Along this road a father and son haul a huge bundle of alfalfa on their burro. Another father and son ride a wooden cart pulled by oxen. Finally, a large stone edifice with a red roof, followed by three crosses, announces your arrival in Santa Cruz Papalutla.
Baskets of innumerable types are sold in abundance in all indigenous markets and in shops. Many, however, come from distant locations – e.g., the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Mixteca (in northwestern Oaxaca)—well beyond the geographical radius we consider. 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.
Amador Martínez Antonio
[Avenida Hidalgo #19]
Teotitlan Del Valle
Shuttle-Loom Woolen Rugs and Wallhangings & Candles
Known for centuries of rug weaving, this pueblo is located approximately 26 kilometers (and 35 minutes) by car from the city of Oaxaca. It is the first pueblo founded by the Zapotecs more than 8000 years ago, and has been inhabited from its inception by painters, sculptors and weavers. Weaving on the traditional backstrap loom is dated to 500 B.C. Ancient traditions persist to a remarkable degree in this pueblo. For example, many families continue to speak the indigenous Zapotec language, either preferentially or bilingually.
The approach from Oaxaca City consists of varied terrain, ranging from flat portions from which impressive landforms suddenly emerge to lush green hills with a patchwork of rocks and cactus. A left turn into Teotitlán offers a breathtaking view of the mountains from every perspective. Off to the side are verdant, flat plains nestled between gentle pastel blue mountains, peppered with cacti. Colorful houses, some bearing signs, such as “Welcome to Teotitlán,” announce the relative prosperity of many of the families who dwell here. One house is yellow with a purple dome. Another is a huge white-washed structure with archways surrounding an expansive patio. The next is an imposing golden yellow, brick-arched home accented by striking blue trim. Along the way a disciplined herd of turkeys crosses the street and darts into a doorway.
Sampler of Excellent Artists:
Shuttle-Loom Woolen Rugs and Wallhangings
- Isaac García Vásquez [Hidalgo #30]
- Ernesto Vásquez Gutiérrez (son of Isaac) [Avenida Juárez S/N]
- Aida Vásquez Gutiérrez (daughter of Isaac) [Avenida Juárez #119]
Bulmaro Pérez Mendoza [Centenario #27]
Jacobo Mendoza Ruíz [Avenida Juárez #39]
Fidel Cruz Lazo [Avenida Juárez Kilometer 2]
José Mendoza Martínez [Álvaro Obregón #4]
Isaac Armando Martínez Laso [Aquiles Serdán #30]
Hilario Chávez Sosa [Antonio de León #9]
María Luisa González Perez [Avenida Juárez #93]
Fermina Ruíz Gutiérrez [20 de noviembre #17]
Alberto Vásquez [Avenida Juárez #84]
Santa Ana Del Valle
Shuttle-Loom Woolen Rugs and Wallhangings
Santa Ana del Valle, 34 kilometers (21 miles) east of Oaxaca City, is a far less traveled pueblo known for its weaving. It also houses the Shan-Dany Community Museum, which is the oldest of its kind in Oaxaca, displays local archaeological finds, as well as exhibits of the Mexican Revolution, the traditional Danza de la Pluma (Feather Dance), and local textiles.
Alberto Sánchez Martínez [Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz #1]
San Marcos Tlapazola
Utilitarian Terracotta Kitchen Ware
About one hour from Oaxaca City and near the fascinating Sunday indigenous market in Tlacolula, San Marcos is a remote, Zapotec pueblo. Beautiful vistas of blue sky with white cotton clouds hovering over well-tended corn and agave fields, from which farmers with oxen-drawn wooden carts travel to and fro, make this an unforgettable outing – one well off the typical tourist’s path.
Alberta Sánchez Mateo & Macrina Mateo Martínez
(aunt and niece) [Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz #1]
Pedal Loom Cotton Cloth Weaving
Located approximately 45 kilometers (50 minutes or more) from Oaxaca, this pueblo is home to the famous Zapotec ruins that inspire many woven patterns. The artisans of this pueblo create a vast array of weaving, primarily in cotton, for blouses, dresses, shawls (“rebozos”), shirts, pants, bedspreads and tablecloths. They encompass many decorative elements, including patterns (especially those based on the geometric shapes of the local pre-Hispanic ruins), lattice-work within the weaving itself, and embroidery and crocheting added to the weaving.
The route from Oaxaca City to Mitla is also the highway leading to the state of Chiapas to the east. It is a primarily flat road surrounded on both sides by expansive vistas. Cacti are prominent in the landscape, as are lush trees including palms and eucalyptus. En route are the ruins of Yagúl and other smaller archaeological sites. Striking stone formations sprinkled with greenery are visible in the distance. Along the stretch immediately preceding the turn off to Mitla is the mezcal district. A conglomeration of mezcal factories populates either side of the highway.
A daily market with all types of goods, but most especially clothing and other woven items, stands adjacent to the ruins. The winding road leading into the pueblo’s center (5 de Febrero), where the ruins are located, is similarly flooded with countless shops sporting rich displays of woven products.
Sampler of Excellent Work:
Gildardo Juárez Sosa [Camino Nacional #24]