Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, a place or space of tranquility conducive to reflection and dialogue with nature, located in the Mixe district, 114 km. from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, in the Sierra Norte, is built on a mountainous surface, which gives rise to a temperate-humid climate, where ravines and slopes are present. In addition, the main square of the municipality of the same name, which has more than nine thousand inhabitants, is located here.
The main economic activities are agriculture, cattle raising, commerce, and typical handicrafts, such as the world-famous Tlahui blouses, which reflect in their stitches the beauty of the Sierra Mixe, where the sky and the green mountains join the mist to be witnesses of the unique creations of its artisans.
According to Edgar Vasquez Gomez, a local artisan, the textiles are made in a raw blanket with red and black threads. The figures symbolize the thoughts and dreams of its inhabitants, while the maguey and the millenary hill of Zempoaltepetl, the characteristic landscapes of the community, its trails, its mountains, the relationship between heaven and earth, and the love of life and nature.
Although the color of the blanket and the design of a blouse or shirt may vary, the elements of the maguey, the sun, and the rivers will always be present.
The embroideries of each piece are dense and made with double fabric. However, they retain similar characteristics such as the resemblance between the fretwork, the zigzag, the straight or curved stitching; as well as the mixture of colors in the threads and the blankets. For all these reasons, they are much more than a design, they are the culture, the identity, and the feeling of an entire people. This activity generates employment and income for the families that carry it out. However, in 2015, this work was plagiarized by the French designer Isabel Marant.
While article 31 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples mentions that they.
[...] have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including [...] designs [...] and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property of such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights. To date, neither federal nor foreign authorities have offered a public apology to the aggrieved parties, as requested by them.
The lack of protection for Mexican handicrafts has opened a debate among citizens since this is not an issue for a few, but all of us as a society, especially if we want our traditions and culture to continue to be a unique characteristic of Mexico.
By Yazmín Romero, Source: Lider Es