Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murals in San Cristobal de Las Casas around the main cathedral

Just this month I lead a group of eleven of us around Chiapas, Mexico.  The earthquake in September of 2017 fortunately did not harm many people but it was the old churches,  convents and landmark buildings that suffered the most damage.  We could still enjoy the beautiful facades but entry to many of the buildings was prohibited.
There is Phil and Norma in the photo with the Cathedral de San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Corrugated metal fencing has been installed around all the old buildings that desperately need restoration.  Local artist have painted murals on these temporary barriers which I think are marvelous.  I love how this one vendor has positioned his goods right smack in the middle of the heart surrounded by flowers.
Colorful octopus with all his tentacles and suction cups.
Great Dia de los Muertos skull.
Abstract blue bird with a jaguar behind him.
Pretty goldfish.

She looks rather startled.

A bit of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
The side of the cathedral.
Mural of a mask.  
The slits below the blue eyes is where the person who wears the mask sees.  
This one is a Parachico, which is worn by the men in Chiapa de Corzo during the festival in January celebrating Saint Sebastian.  
During the 18th century, a wealthy woman, Maria de Angulo arrived from Spain with her crippled son.  She took her son to a curandero, a local healer called a namandiyuguá.  He instructed her to bath her son in the waters of a small lake called Cumbujuya.  Her son was miraculously cured.   To distract and amuse the boy, a local group disguised themselves as Spaniards with masks and began to dance, “para el chico” which means “for the boy."   According to one version of the story, this is what cured the child.  The tradition of these dancers began in 1711, leading the Spanish to call the event “para el chico”, which eventually evolved into "Parachicos".
Maria de Angulo was so extremely grateful, she donated food and supplies to the people which helped immensely since the region was going through a bad drought.
The giant mask is used in La Danza del Gigante in San Juan Chamula at Carnival. The dance represents the story of David and Goliath.  Goliath, who carries a wooden machete, repeatedly charges the audience and frightens the children.  We were fortunate to be in San Juan Chamula one day during carnival.  It was pretty exciting!
Two Jaguar masks surrounding the Jade mask of King Pakal of Palenque.  Jaguar dances are concerned with maintaining balance in the natural world and the agricultural cycle.

So realistic.
The backside of the cathedral.  I hope the funding comes soon to Chiapas so the beautiful, old buildings can be restored.  Maybe a "Maria de Angulo" will help out!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán has an unbelievable Maya textile collection

Located in the historic center of San Cristobal de Las Casas is the Museo de Lost Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.  The second floor is home to an amazing Maya textile collection from Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.  There are three collections on display from the Formento Cultural Banamex collection (1990 - 2000), the Guatemala collection (1920-2000) and the Pellizzi collection (1950 - 1979). 
The building dates back to the 17th century when the Dominicans occupied the convent until 1853.  It later became a national heritage site.
It is a beautifully displayed museum with drawers under each garment that pull out to showcase other huipils or cloths from the region that the garment that is on display is from.
This particular drawer displayed a women's cloth (pano de mujer), 1930 - 1940, from Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
San Andres Larrainzar, Chiapas huipil from 1975.
A man's ceremonial cloth, 2012, from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, the only Tzotzil weaving community in the tropical lowlands. 
Simply gorgeous!
A ceremonial napkin from San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Gautemala.  1950 - 1960.
A beautiful huipil from Chajul in Guatemala, around 1980 - 1990.
The Maya clothing has undergone changes over the years due to political, economic and religious factors.  The dress for the women during the Classic period (A.D. 2000- 90) was a huipil (a handwoven short blouse or long dress) and an enreado (a wrap skirt made of hand-woven fabric.  The configuration of the hand pleating at the waist varies from each region).  The men wore a taparrabo (a loincloth) and a tilma (a cloak-like outer garment).   It was not until the 16th century with the introduction of Catholicism the the dress changed, more of an emphasis that the whole body be covered, especially for the men. The introduction of silk and wool dramatically changed the weaving of the garments.
The 20th century brought major change with the use of industrial cotton thread available in countless colors and man-made fibers such as rayon which replaced silk and acrylic which replaced wool.  There was certainly an explosion of color in the 1970's and 1980's.
Today there is a large movement to bring back the natural dyes and ancient designs.
A gorgeous combination of colors on this huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala.
A wedding Huipil, circa 1970, from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Huipils from the Highlands in Chiapas, Mexico.
A huipil from San Juan El Bosque in Chiapas, 1975.  El Bosque is the most northern village in the Highlands where cross-stitch embroidery was originated.  Settled by refugees from San Juan Chamula after the Caste war of 1869.   Due to the warmer climate in El Bosque, the woolen dress from San Juan Chamula was substituted to a blue cotton skirt and a wide, red vertical striped huipil.
Love the colors on this huipil with its ancient designs from Tenejapa, Chiapas. 1972. 
 A huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala / 1986.   Such an interesting selection of colors.
A 1955 huipil from Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas.  Legion has it that is was Mary Magdalene who taught the women how to weave these elaborate brocaded fabrics at the beginning of the world.  Many of the designs can be traced back to the Maya Classic period.
Pieces from San Juan Chamula (left) and Zinacantan (right).
Guatemala, 1980.
A wool huipil from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas / 1974.   Prior to the Dominicans arrival, woven pelts of rabbit and cotton were worn to ward off the cold.   The introduction of sheep's wool proved to be a far superior fabric.  I have a natural wool hand-woven cape that I use as a throw and it is so beautifully, tightly woven.  I can contest, is does keep you warm!
Huipil from Concepcion Chiquirichapa, Gautemala.  1980.
1990 - Huipil from Nebaj, Guatemala.
Zinacantan, Chiapas / 2015.  A wedding garment, a hand-woven huipil with feathers spun into the thread in the lower border and in the pre-conquest-type rectangular design below the neck opening. 
 Textiles from Guatemala and Mexico
1.  Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1910 - 1920
2 and 3. See below
4. Skirt from San Juan Cotzal, Guatemala / 196- - 1970
5. Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1980
6. Skirt from Chajul, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
7. Cloth from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1930
8.  Belt from Zinacantan, Mexico / 2006
9. Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940-1950
10.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1930 - 1940
11.  Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940
12.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
13.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1960 - 1970

2. A Huipil, from Tactic, Guatemala / 1979. 
Talk about a lively combination of color and design.
No. 3 - A skirt from Cuyotenanago, Guatemala / 1990
We visited the museo on the third day of my Magic of the Maya World tour that I lead just this month.  A definite visit when you are in San Cristobal de Las Casas!  I could have spent hours in the textile department.

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
Avenida 20 de Noviembre s/n
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico