Written by: Alma Cristina Gómez Macfarland
Agricultural and artisanal production represent two significant economic activities within indigenous communities, with a particular focus on women in Mexico. In the realm of craftsmanship, the empowerment of these women signifies the development of well-organized associations that have adhered to and evolved under guidelines over decades, resulting in substantial benefits for themselves and their families. The groups that LPC collaborates with are a prime example of this.
The Union of Artisans of Santo Tomás Jalieza, a community in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, boasts a history of over 60 years, proudly preserving the talents of some of its founding members who continue to pass down their skills to subsequent generations.
Marina, the former president of the association (July 2022 - July 2023), shared with us on various occasions the ways in which they organize themselves and consistently strive to fulfill their guidelines while innovating as a collective. They efficiently distribute the workload to ensure that everyone can generate economic benefits and operate under the leadership of a committee composed of a president, secretary, and treasurer, who tirelessly coordinate various projects they engage in.
In July 2023, a new committee led by Jovita was elected, whom we had the pleasure of meeting a couple of months ago and with whom we now have the pleasure of continuing our projects.
However, these groups of talent not only work with efficient administrative foundations but also continuously endeavor to grow in other crucial areas, such as innovation, through constant training and skills development.
One such group is the "Silk Artisans of the Sierra Norte," who, through state-provided training proposals and collaboration with highly experienced and knowledgeable artisans, all dedicated to artisanal silk production in San Pedro Cajonos, update and seek innovation in their work and products.
Moisés, the current group president, shares his skills in the natural ink staining process with other artisans who wish to learn the this technique. Gladys, an artisan and Moisés's wife, has specialized in embroidery and finishing for over 20 years, which involves the final details of many silk pieces. She uses two techniques: knotting and interlacing, and she has aimed to expand the applications of these techniques in the final products.
• Artisan Weaver: Moisés Martínez Velasco
• Weaving Technique: pedal loom
• Weaving Duration: 1 month
• Materials: Handmade Artisanal Silk and natural dye made from grana cochineal
• Interlacing Technique.
Efficient work has its rewards, which is why these artisan associations have endured over the years and generations. The continuous development of these social groups is essential for their achievements, and all of them are dedicated to this purpose.