Artisan Organization: Mario Chavez
"In 2002, I began to export my handwoven designs with the your help. I always wanted to strengthen the Zapotec culture that I was born in.
"Sending my work to foreign countries hadn't occurred to me but, today, it is a reality. With your guidance, I managed to create more designs. Your advice to create style and more combinations of colors has been a great support.
"My sales have grown little by little, giving us the opportunity to empower people who are interested in learning this craft. It's important that I convey to my family knowledge about our culture, which has been passed down by our parents.
"You've given me the opportunity to realize my vision and create better quality textiles that are more striking and full of color, tradition, and the essence of our beautiful customs. We have gradually increased our collection and we are on track.
One of the greatest challenges was learning to pay more attention to the quality of each one of our weavings. I'm very happy to be working with people who are so nice and conscious about preserving the art of our country.
"I want to continue trying new designs and colors that allow me to grow, adding my contribution to preserving this tradition, which I literally carry in my veins. Thank you very much for the great support and direction."
Original Artisan Story
"My name is Mario Chavez Gutierrez, and according to legend, the Lord of the Universe descended in the village where I was born. His mission was to make art flourish in the region, and let the loom recreate the beauty of the universe. That's why I called my workshop Teotl-Tlan, because in the Nahuatl language it means House of God.
"I come from a family of weavers – it is a legacy I inherited from my great-grandfather. Nowadays, my designs in wool are innovative, somewhat different from those of my great-grandfather. One day I looked around and I could see we were surrounded by art, but people didn't value it enough and poverty was settling into our community. I realized we had everything at our disposal, we just didn't know how to make good use of it. So I decided to try new and different things. I changed patterns and played with colors. My aim was to preserve and promote the beauty of Zapotec art.
"The process starts with the wool – we shear the sheep twice a year. Then it's washed and carded by the women. We dye it with natural colorants such as cochineal, walnut tree bark and local flowers. We thread the warp threads on the looms and commence weaving, a process that can take anywhere between one day to a whole month, depending on the design. To finish, we roll up the loose threads and tie them into knots. Finally, we check the rug to make sure it is of good quality and has no imperfections.
"I want to give a present made with my hands to the world, as a gift from Teotl-Tlan.""