Oaxaca, sanctuary of artisans

By Roger Vela

“The pride of working with clay originates from my heritage because I was born from my mother who was an artisan. My mother would sit in front of my sisters, and I would watch how she would work the clay with her hands”, Rufina says.

In Oaxaca the ground is alive, minerals are transformed into colors and the wood of the trees is transformed into fantastic creatures. In a sustainable way, the artisan creates unique pieces. Its relationship with nature and its millenary cultural heritage allows it and gives life to a place without equal: a sanctuary of artisans.

This state in the South of Mexico is made up of 570 municipalities where there are artisans, it is divided into 16 ethnic groups and 8 regions, this leads it to be one of the three states with a greater number of artisan techniques.

One of the stories of this sanctuary is that of Rufina Ruiz, a master craftswoman who has been working with clay all her life. “I had the fortune of being born, growing up, and making a living out of it. To me, clay is the most sacred”.

Nadia Climaco Ortega, director of the Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Artesanías explains that artisans leave their hearts in each piece and assures that Oaxaca has much to show the world through the pieces that each of the masters creates.

“Is their soul, but also, their daily experiences in their communities. They are expressing their natural environment and life experiences; their legacy. Thus, the significance of our artisans is that they portray our history and traditions through their artisanal pieces.   

Story after story the artisans of Oaxaca are unique like their pieces. His inspiration is in the blood and in the memories of his ancestors. This is how José Sosa, who creates those popular magical beings called alebrijes, tells it: “We are mainly inspired by our Zapotec ancestors. We impregnate their culture in all our pieces”.

At This is Latin America we pay tribute to those stories and we want to show you a bit of this sanctuary of Artisans, the hands behind these unique pieces.

This is just beginning…

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