Located in the town of Santo Tomás Jalieza, in Oaxaca South-western Mexico, a talented group of artisans focuses their work on a pre-Hispanic technique: Telar de Cintura. As time has passed of Lolo and this group working hand-in-hand, today we wanted to share with you a special message all the way from Oaxaca. In a short but sweet conversation, artisans have asked us to share some pictures and words of gratitude directed to you, that with your support contribute to their community’s well being.
The work of the entire community of Santo Tomás Jalieza focuses on artisanal products, mainly those that are created by using an ancient technique called Telar de Cintura, or back strap loom. This weaving technique consist on weaving threads on a loom with a fixed anchorage at the belt of the weaver. The texture and designs are achieved by passing the warp above and below the weft, through the threads that are tightly fixed to a tree or pole on the other end, and crossing it repeatedly until weaving the fabric. Lastly, to achieve the different colors, cotton threads are dyed with natural colorants that come from plants and insects, such as Zacatlascal, añil, and other cacti.
Left: Different colors of thread already dyed. Right: Thread on a loom, ready to be pased through the weft.
Weaving by telar de cintura is a pre-hispanic technique that has been passed on from generation to generation and it is traditionally women who master this technique (as opposed to telar de pedal, where generally men operate the machine). Young children learn this technique and, when they reach an older age, are able to help the community. Although it seems somehow simple, only a yard of this fabric can take up to a week to be finished!
Using this technique, artisans create a large piece of fabric, or faja as they refer to it, that is then transformed into many different products. The faja comes in many different sizes and widths, but what is most interesting about it is that it is a community work. Given that the work of telar de cintura is so difficult to achieve and one can get tired easily, the whole community shares the work. For this very same reason, no one can claim to have made a creation, as everyone in the community participated on it somehow, including those who have passed down the knowledge collectively. Lastly, we also learned from them that they do not teach the techniques behind telar de cintura to outsiders of their community, as it is considered a fault to their heritage.
During a phone call and some messaging with members of this community, they have asked us to share some pictures and videos of their work, with the main hope of showing you all where they live, the work that they do, and to thank you all deeply for the appreciation for their work, which translate into appreciating their culture, community, knowledge, and history. We would also like to emphasize how this community does not see nor wants the individual credit, but rather that of the community. Here are some pictures:
Pictures show the community weaving of a faja to create other products once this large piece of weaved fabric is finished.
The process here is how the faja is then prepared to create other products. In this case, the picture on the rights shows how facemasks for Lolo are assembled.
Artisans have asked us to show how this is truly a community work that respect their origins and teachings.
Picture on the left shows another member of the community, a man in this case, helping weave a faja. the picture on the right is the picture of young girls learning to weave; these are the mothers of todays' weavers.
This are some members of the community demonstrating the weaving of Telar de Cintura, holding a sign for you all to read that says "Thank you for your purchase".
Lastly, in this picture, more community members gathered to send the same message: Thank you for your purchase.
Up to this day, from the direct purchase of their products, the community of Santo Tomás Jalieza has earned approximately 30K USD, which is over half a million pesos. With this, as they shared with us, they have been able to sustain over 500 households during the pandemic, and have grown their community workshop to house and teach more people who have shown more and more interest in this technique, their legacy. Also, 5% of the earnings they generate from selling their products are directed towards a neutering campaign for stray dogs in their town, which was becoming a problem in the community. As they share in our conversation, they want everyone to know that they value the appreciation for their work, which is overwhelming for them to know that people in the US value their products, work, and talent.
Today, products made by artisans in Santo Tomás Jalieza can be found at Lolo and range from belts, laptop covers, pouches, mañanitas or ponchos, to table runners and individual place mats and you can shop for them here.
So, on behalf of artisans of Santo Tomás Jalieza, as well as everyone in Lolo, we take this opportunity to thank you for your suppert. We hope you know that you help this and many other communities as well as a family owned business with every purchase.