Tag Archives: History & Traditions

Mico-lógica Alters our Perception of the Magic of Mushrooms in Oaxaca

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 6.08.16 PMAlvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.

When we think of mushrooms and Oaxaca the first thing which comes to mind is María Sabina, Huautla de Jiménez, and hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms. But slowly that’s all changing as a result of the groundbreaking work in mycology of Josefina Jiménez and Johann Mathieu, through their company Mico-lógica. Continue reading Mico-lógica Alters our Perception of the Magic of Mushrooms in Oaxaca


Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.47.51 PMBy Marcia and Jan Chaiken

Around the time that most of Mexico is observing Semana Santa, the holy week leading up to Easter, the Jewish population of Mexico (over 60,000 people in 2010) is celebrating Passover, a joyous eight days on the Jewish calendar. Passover is the celebration of release of the Israelite nation from enslaved captivity in Egypt over 3000 years ago. Continue reading Passover

Tehuana Celebrations

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.44.07 PMBy Brooke Gazer

The Isthmus of Tehuántepec is about 200KM south of Huatulco. Women from this region, who are referred to as “Tehuanas”, hold several elaborate celebrations each year. We all like to dress up when attending an important event and these ladies are certainly no exception. The traditional formal costume of Tehuanas is among the most ornate and distinctive in Mexico. In fact Frida Kahlo, who had a flair for the dramatic, often favored this style. The two piece dresses are frequently made of dark velvet and are covered in a vivid motif of embroidered flowers. This ensemble is referred to as a “Traje de Gala” (party dress) and the elaborate hand work can take up to a year to complete. These works of art sell for as much as 20,000 pesos although less ornate examples are available. Since not everyone can afford to own a “Traje de Gala” it is possible to rent one for 1000- 1500 pesos. Continue reading Tehuana Celebrations

Palenque Designs Today

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.27.51 PMBy Doreen Woelfel

A trip to Palenque , Chiapas is to delve into the heart of Mayan design. Where in Oaxaca, one sees strong Zapotecan and Mixtec elements in their crafts, Chiapas represents the distinctly Mayan traditions.

Mayan traditions have contributed essential design ideas throughout the world, from jewelry designers, textile artists, painters to architects. A great example is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles (1924) which reflects his deep admiration for Mayan architecture. When visiting Palenque, you are struck by the elements of architecture that continue to be used today: courtyards, square buildings, quadrangles, open space using platforms of various sizes and levels, and inclusion of landscape elements. As in the small river that was diverted around palaces at Palenque, and yet with wooden bridges, connects one area of Palenque with another. Color was most certainly part of this design, sadly we can only imagine now how those colors blended with the environment to create a unique, prototypical Mayan city. Continue reading Palenque Designs Today

El Centro Histórico: A Cornucopia of Architectural Styles

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.18.55 PMBy Carole Reedy

“Grandest, largest, biggest, oldest, most beautiful” are all adjectives that have been used to describe the architecture in El Centro Histórico, Mexico City.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, El Centro Histórico comprises 700 blocks wrapped around the 13-acre zócalo, the heart of the city and one of the biggest squares in the world–second only to Red Square in Moscow. In 1325, the Aztecs built their Venice-like city, Tenochtitlan, on this site, at the time an island in Lake Texcoco. Continue reading El Centro Histórico: A Cornucopia of Architectural Styles

Benito Juárez Life and Legacy

By Brooke Gazer

March 21 marks the 205 anniversary of the birth of Benito Juárez. It is astounding that from his humble beginnings in Oaxaca, he became one of the most respected figures in Mexico’s history. Orphaned at age 3 and raised by his grandparents, Juárez moved to Oaxaca City at the tender age of 13. He arrived in the city illiterate and speaking only Zapotec, the language of his Indian heritage. He must have been both brilliant and charismatic to have acquired a Law degree, married a woman of high social standing and had a triumphant albeit turbulent political career. Continue reading Benito Juárez Life and Legacy

The Legend of Princess Donaji

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.55.24 PM By Frances Lopez (age 11)

Once upon a time in the beautiful hills of Oaxaca, hidden in the lush forest was the palace of the great Zapotec king. His daughter, princess Donaji went every morning to stroll through the forest and listen to the birds with the extraordinary feathers sing. One day she discovered a stream that soon became a river and as she walked along the river she saw a silver sheet of water cascading over a beautiful rock. Today this rock is known as Guela Bupu. Every morning thereafter Princess Donaji would go to a cave that was hidden behind the waterfall and bathe. Continue reading The Legend of Princess Donaji

The Blues: Indigo

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.40.58 PMBy Julie Etra

Añil, scientific name generally referring to Indigofera tinctoria, belongs to the pea family and is the source of the beautiful color indigo. In Nahuatl it is called jiquitle. The plant is a shrub, growing up to 1.5 m in height also used for a blue dye is its close relative Indigofera suffruticosa, which is the species used in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Like other plants in the pea family, these plants ‘fix’ nitrogen through the interaction of bacteria living in the nodules of the plants’ roots, thereby and enriching the soil without the need for supplemental nitrogen. They are also excellent plants for erosion control. Continue reading The Blues: Indigo