There is Much We Can Learn From the Artisans of This Ancient Land
Spread throughout the broken terrain of Southern Mexico are dozens of hidden villages of potters, weavers, basket and rope makers, tanners and spinners working quietly at their ancient trade, virtually unknown to the outside world. These are the quiet, traditional trades of indigenous villages that have forever supplied their secluded regions with needed goods. With the rise of the first agrarian communities in Mexico some 4,000 years ago these trades developed and became refined. They have survived the rise and fall of ancient empires, conquest and revolution and flicker on into the 21st century, artisans doing their best in the face of competition from tin, plastic and polyester. The artisans are Zapotec, Mixtec, Mehica, Mixe/Ayu'uk, Maya, Purepecha and others. Their humble, beautiful, backcountry trades remain an untold secret.
These ancient trades are typified by the use of local materials; clay from the fields, wool shorn from Mixtec sheep, silk cultivated on local mulberry leaves, and basket fiber from the abundant palms and riverside carrizo stands. The machinery used to aide work is minimal; gourd and leather for pottery, a clay weighted spindle for spinning silk, a rough-hewn loom. Skill, experience and expertise in materials are what create such master works from these artisans' hands.
The trips crafted by Traditions Mexico are woven into the fabric of these ancient trades. They are offered to share the world of the Southern Mexican artisan and her incredible wealth of knowledge with people interested in traditional arts and culture. We travel in small groups, no larger than ten, so as not to overwhelm our hosts, and so that our visits can be personal and meaningful. And we journey to places where other travelers don't go, far beyond the beaten path into the calm of old Mexico.
I appreciate the help I received from Eric Mindling ... guide extraordinaire, whose relaxed good humor and love for the region were evident from the moment I first met him
Amy Butler Greenfield
Author, The Perfect Red; Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire
(Eric escorted Amy on a portion of her travels in Mexico while she was researching A Perfect Red)
My group of ten folks, all my personal friends, were extremely enthusiastic about the experience. All want to return for another trip with Eric, and/or just to spend time in Oaxaca. We all enjoyed Eric's humor, were grateful for his careful driving, and loved watching him interact with the craftfolk in the villages.
Perhaps one of the most memorable and exciting trips of my lifetime.
Journey Participant - Fiber Arts of Ancient Oaxaca
The (Oaxacan Clay) workshop turned out to be the best part of the best vacation I've ever taken. …This is no effete arts project. We really were allowed to briefly participate in a centuries (millennia?) old craft with the deepest of cultural roots. What a privilege!
Robert LaCour Greenberg, San Rafael, CA
I fulfilled my personal desire of getting an intimate glimpse of what it may have been like were I to have been born into a family of potters… it was so cool to be out digging clay the Zapotec way within 24 hours of my arrival in Oaxaca!
I cannot remember being so deeply affected by any other similar experience in my life… If I live a 100 lifetimes, I will never experience that wonderful trip again, and I will never forget it… I expected to have a wonderful time, but I didn't expect to fall in love, totally and completely, with Oaxaca and its people.
Eric makes these trips so rich with fun and exciting experiences. You will feel safe and well fed. My experience and that of so many others comes down to so much fun, beautiful pots, gorgeous landscapes, guests of native Mexicans who are rich with knowledge, passion and artistic competence.
It was a fabulous experience!! If any of you have a yen to see some fantastic scenery, see how pottery was, and is, made by Zapotec and Mixe people in the tiny villages surrounding Oaxaca, and just generally have an indescribable experience, TAKE ONE OF THESE TOURS.