Archive for the ‘Folk Art’ Category


Beginning in the early hours this morning, this family began making a Xuchile – an altar made from bamboo like strips, lashed to twenty five foot poles, then covered in flowers which are made from the root ball of the agave plant, decorated with juniper branches, and marigolds.  It will be walked up the street to the Parroquia today in a parade of even more  Xuchiles, dancers, and spiritual groups.

It is an offering to San Miguel, the town’s patron saint, whose birthday was September 29th, but celebrated this weekend.  We spent several hours talking with the family about the history of this craft over the centuries.

As the morning progressed, we were invited by Juan, the head Xuchile maker  (pronounced soo-cheel-ay) to go into the house and present ourselves to the altar, eat soup and spend some time with his family.


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Regarding the ‘S’ word…
We walked into town about 5:30
The Jardin is full today,
The streets are still rather quiet.
No one but the waiters
are wearing the masks (tapabocas)
Nor do you see many
Hanging it around people’s necks.

Looking at the photos,
I would say everyone is pretty relaxed
Just thoroughly enjoying
A peaceful, quiet afternoon
In the center of town,
Not too worried today
About the flu or anything else.

Tonight’s novena is the fifth
About 100 flowers are brought in
For each of the five misterios
There is a line up of children,
About twenty of them,
Beto and his younger sister
Hand a single long stemmed flower
To each child, who holds it high
Over their heads, singing
As they walk single file
And place the flower on the altar.


Two of Jesus’ daughters
Carry roses.

Beto and Victoria
Lead the songs
While Chucho, a little 7 year old

Who has been to every novena,
Whose mother must carry him
All the times, holds his rose
To place on the altar

Last but not least,  for a little fun,
There is a wonderfully tacky pink and silver fountain
‘Fuente del Palmar’
Near the Artisan market.
I especially like the choice of colors,
The painted fake rocks,
Which you can really see in the bottom photo.
They  are surreal up close.


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There is a really nice little show
Of Anjelina Perez Ibarguen’s work
Called ‘Contratiempos’
Or ‘Against Time,’
At Bellas Artes.
It’s a multi-media
Mixed material
Sculptural installation
Which spans several rooms.
It’s whimisical and fun
It pokes fun

Makes a few statements
Here and there.

With everything closed this week
You can’t see it now,
But it’s worth a look at 
When the museum reopens.



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On Easter Sunday in the US
There are Easter baskets
Easter Eggs
Ham and potatoes
Deviled Eggs
All preceded by
Weeks of the Easter bunny at the mall
Aisles of candy in all the stores
That will make it into Easter baskets
Then sold the following week at 75% off.

On Easter Sunday in San Miguel
At 11:30 A.M.
Truckloads of paper mache Judas figures
Are lined up in the Jardin

Paper mache Judas figures lined up in the Jardin

Paper mache Judas figures lined up in the Jardin

There are witches
Local politicians
Some you can’t figure out 

Judas, not as imagined in the bible, but represented in these figures to be blown up on Easter Sunday

Judas, not as imagined in the bible, but represented in these figures to be blown up on Easter Sunday

But it doesn’t matter because
They all represent Judas,
Who betrayed Jesus,
And he is strung with fireworks
That swirl him around and explode him
25  times this Easter.

A little slideshow, and videos below of the festivities:

The Videos:

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We arrived in San Cristobal about 1:30 pm
We hired a taxi to take us to the hostal
Got a private room and went out to explore the town. 


San Cristobal is a beautiful,
Human scale town.
The buildings are not tall,
Everything is brightly painted in warm colors.

We did a big loop around the town
Scoping out where everything was
Then ended up at the mercado de artesanias

 The craft here is gorgeous
Weavings and embroideries are the specialty.
The outlying villages of Zinacantan, Chamula,
San Andres, the Margaritas and Amatenango
All represented, and more.  
Each village has it’s own unique style
Each person their own design on their clothing.

More to come…

 We had decided to visit Chamula today
Where the Catholic church
Is adorned with the traditional saints
Has no pews, but a floor filled with pine boughs
Coca cola bottles and candles
Where the local shamans
Provide pagan mayan rituals
Instead of the normal religious services. 

However, once in the taxi
We discovered that Amatenango,
A small town with many artisans
Of renowned indigenous pottery
Which is about 45 minutes away
Would be a better bet for today.
The ride out is through rolling hills
Pine trees surrounding open fields
Dotted with family groups
Washing laundry in the streams
Women, dressed in the hairy skirts of Chamula
Tending their black sheep.

Our taxi driver, Pedro,
Is a friendly religious man
With typical religious objects
Hanging from the rear view mirror
A scapula,
A medallion of the virgin
A statue of a saint.

Amatenango is a small town,
Really, a small strip of buildings
With artisans selling their clay work
Renowned for their painted Jaguars,
they also sell utilitarian pieces
Chickens and roosters
Some brightly painted
Many in the old style
The color of the clay
With Black.

Although the market is small
There are quite a few sellers.
It all seems to be the same work
However, it is all made by hand
One at a time
And you see differences
In the work as you explore
The various stalls 

Amatenango Craft

Amatenango Craft

This is a typical Jaguar from the area
They come in all stances, sizes and various colors

After Amatenango
Zoe fell ill from something she ate
I spent a day and a half
Wandering all over San Cristobal
Checking in every two hours
To see if she was ok.
I visited churches, markets and museums
And on the last day, we both wandered
Throughout the town
Thinking that this is a place
We will come back to

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Many of the carved Cantera stone figures
Architectural details, columns and canales,
Saints, angels and fountains
Come from a small town
In the Queretaro mountains
Adjacent and a few kilometers away
From the town of Pedro Escobedo,
In a town named Escolasticas.
A rose amidst simple round column shapes, Escolastica, Cantera

John had gone there with his boys
Two Christmases ago and wanted to go back.
We hopped in the car with Richard & Chris,
And were off to see if we could find
This remote town on our own.

Escolastica lies in the hills,
About an hour outside of Queretaro.
The highways are good and it’s easy going
Until you get to Pedro Escobedo
Where you know you have to turn.

The highway makes a detour
To main street, where you can buy
Tacos, chicken, baskets, groceries
Visit with your neighbors, buy eggs,
Get your car washed or find a taxi.
But there isn’t one sign for the road to Escolastica

Studio at Escolasticas

About four blocks down,
I unroll my window
Ask a man on the street
If he knows the road to Escolastica.
‘Hijole’ he says (like oh God!)
He motions around in a circle
Tells us to go left, then left, then straight
And keep going. 
Which of course leads us exactly back
To where we were.

We go left, where there is a line up of taxis
We ask the lead driver if he knows the route.
He tells us to go left, then left and straight
Todo direcho – keep going straight
And you’ll get there.
Wall insert of a lion, Escolasticas, Cantera
It looks like a dead end to nowhere
So we head back up the highway road
Thinking once we get out of town
There will be a sign.
As we leave town, we realize the map says
That the road is not outside of town
But somewhere in the middle. 
We turn around again and John
Stops a gas truck to ask a third time.
The driver tells us, “go past the light, three streets
Turn left and keep going.
You’ll see signs for la Lira
Then Escolastica.”

This works, but it doesn’t look right
A cobblestone road, barely rideable
Past old buildings that look like
Abandoned stone jails.
But soon there is a sign for la Lira,
A town, and down a little street
That doesn’t seem like it can go anywhere
Then across the ‘highway’
Really, a small two lane paved road
Which leads us 7 km more into Escolastica.
You know you are there
When you start seeing things like the carvings below
And when a car goes by, or the wind blows
It picks up all the stone dust and blows it around
Drying out your face and throat.

Griffin figure, Escolasticas, Cantera

As we arrive, there is a long stretch of nothing but carvings
Then a long stretch of town, which is surprisingly large
Followed by a stretch of countryside
With a few studios, carvings behind wire fences,
Then a long stretch of big workshops
Where they cut the large pieces
With saws that have teeth that are an inch and a half long
Whose cuttings, mixed with water hit the wall beyond
Making an image the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Large saw with carbide 'dientes' Teeth, Escolasticas, Cantera 


There are carvings of every imaginable shape and style,
Angels, virgins, saints, monsters, soldiers and mermaids
Sleeping cherub, angel figure, Escolastica, Cantera

And architectural features and forms
Canales that look like animals, along with simple plain ones
You can imagine water flowing from their mouths 

Jaguar canales, Escolastica, Cantera
Sitting atop blocks and cylinders of stone,
with carved pillars at top 

Men fighting beasts
Where would one put something like this? 

Roman soldier and the minataur, Escolastica, Cantera

Angels of all kinds

Angel holding flowers, Escolastica, Cantera

In the midst of what appears to be a dirty, dusty, unkempt, disorderly
Group of workshops, you’ll find inside
A very neatly arranged tool bench 

Tools of the trade, hand carving tools, Escolastica, Cantera

A workspace worthy of the piece they are working on,
A large round rose that will go in the top of a church
Carving a rose, Escolastica, Cantera 

Next to the calendar girl that normally adorns the workshop wall
But there are no walls in these workshops
So she is bound to the telephone pole 

Every shop has one of these, or something similar, Escolastica, Cantera

Roman, Christian soldiers on chariots
Are surrounded by birds and fountains 
And we all started singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ 

Roman soldier in a chariot, Escolastica, Cantera

A rustic hacienda style,
Low palapa roof home
Sits at the back of one workshop
Guarded by a life size lion
Shaded by a large tree 
In a garden of cactus.

Click on the photo below
to view the slideshow 

Shady studio with large lion, Escolasticas, Cantera

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You just never know

what you are going to find at the Tuesday market

Which is also known as “the Placita”

Formerly known as the ‘Tianguis”

And still called that by some.

Today I had a real nostalgia moment

When I heard a sound

That was quite familiar 12 years ago

In the Jardin and at fiestas

A chicken, but not quite

But one of the best chicken toys around

But First – a closeup photo:

I want to know who thinks these things up?

Chicken Toy

Chicken Toy

This simple little toy

Is made of:

A small plastic cup

A colored foam cutout chicken

Complete with feathers

Glued to the top of the cup

A string attached to the cup

With half a toothpick

A piece of foam to hold in your fingers

Hold it up in the air

String hanging down

And pull tightly down the string

Jerking it as you go

Voila!  a cockle doodle dooo

And the video demonstration

of how to use the chicken:

Chicken+Toy+at+the+Market-600708962-320 from Suzanne da Rosa on Vimeo.

We tried to get there early enough

To video the making of the enpapelado fish dish

But arrived as they were already cooking the very last one

(for someone else)

So instead, I had the filete

All fried and something you probably should eat

Only once a year, if that

But excellent

John ate the caldo de pescado

With everything, including 8 whole shrimp

including the antennae

Not bad, but not great, he says.


Afterwards, we wandered around looking at things

And found these great cheese balls

Queso fresco, on top with Habanero peppers

On bottom, with Jalapenos

I love the shape and the way the mold leaves it’s shape

All over the outside.

Queso Fresco w/Jabanero and Jalapeno Peppers

Papayas cut into swirling stars

They are masters of cutting fruits and vegetables

Into beautiful shapes.

Papaya Flowers

We bought a liter of honey for 50 pesos

About $3.75

Poured from the drippings of the honeycomb

And ladeled into a liter jar

Honey Seller

Then, one of the best, most colorful underwear booths I’ve ever seen

Between the glow of the orange and blue tarps

And the colors in the underwear

It was blinding to look at.

The best underwear display I've seen in a long time

Around the corner,

We ran into our next door neighbor Aron

His son Ariel, and friend Oscar

Ariel, Aron, John & Oscar

I wish I had taken a photo of the log that this wood came from

It was being shaved into pieces that are used medicinally

We’re not sure what for,

But the design in the wood is amazing.

Next week, we’ll find out what it is used for

Medicinal wood

And a found object in the parking lot – a large tin can

with hand made handle of wire

That had a utilitarian use at one time

Now run over by a car.

Found object - squished tin can with hand make handle

 Last but not least – what you can buy for 45 pesos

($3.30 at today’s exchange rate)

One Pineapple

6 Zucchini

1 Chayote

One large batch of mini bananas

5 Large bananas

Two heads of broccoli

Two large heads of garlic

One Cucumber

9 roma tomatoes

It doesn’t get better than that 

What you get for 45 pesos

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