Palm weaving

One of the most useful handcrafts in Oaxaca are those elaborated with palm leaves. The Mixteca region is the place where many of these weavers work in order to elaborate many items with the leaves of the palm. The process takes a long time, people sit down for many hours weaving and designing patterns on those items.

The tradition comes from pre-Hispanic times when hats where the only protection in the fields. It is common to say in Oaxaca that somebody "Se petateo", an invented verb which means that someone has died and that comes from the word "petate" a mat of palm leaves. Palms are used in several things such as to build roofs, to tie animals, to sleep on mats, to conserve seeds, and to wrap dead people at burials.

There are some varieties of palms which are cut in mountains. Then, palms are transported on donkeys or mules to workshops. Then the leaves of the palm are dried under the sun for three or four days. After that they are added with natural dyes if necessary.

One the most useful items elaborated with palm are the Chuquihuites or Tenates. These items are made in several sizes and are used to carry tortillas, seeds, tlayudas, nixtamal, or in the harvest to collect beans, corn or vegetables. Something curious is the fact that tenates always smell like seeds.

Another products of weaving palm is the elaboration of colorful baskets and bags decorated with polychrome figures of birds, animals, and geometrical shapes. In streets and markets, there are people who sells beautiful and colorful masks made of palm.

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