A visit to the last traditional cultivators of Spanish silk in Mexico.
Please also visit www.TraditionsMexico.com
for pottery and weaving workshops, and back-cactus tours in southern Mexico
1-In remote corners of the state of Oaxaca there are still villages the continue the ancient art of silk cultivation.
2-In the Sierra Norte we visit San Pedro and San Miguel Cajonos as well as Yaganiza
3-In these villages sericulture has been a cottage industry for almost 500 years
4-And some households still raise silkworms.
5-Reyna, a young weaver, shows silk worms eating mulberry leaves.
6-a close up of the worms.
10-The silk worms are raised in boxes, on mats and on tables in people's homes. They are fed mulberry leaves daily.
11-The yellow cocoons are descendants of the original Spanish silk worms, the white ones are recently introduced hybrids.
12-Otilia Masa spins silk straight from the boiled cocoons using a support spindle.
13-The cocoons are pulled apart like cotton balls for spinning.
15-Many spinners till use the ancient support spindle method
16- But some are changing to spinning wheels, Here is a makeshift electric spinning wheel
17-Men even get into the action
19- And here, finished product, but in this case silk that has been reeled rather than spun.
20- A skein of handspun silk is offered
22- sizing the warp with corn starch
27- untangling the warp by beating it
28-Otilia Masa was one of the last silk weavers in 1990 when a government sponsored revival of the industry began.
29-Otilia uses a backstrap loom to weave shawls of handspun silk.
30-The "machete", or beater the she uses is 250 years old.
31-Otilia weaves in her courtyard, seated or standing as she sees fit.
32-Reyna shows a silk shawl. She is knotting the fringe on this one.
33-The macramé fringework can take weeks.
34- a shawl dyed with cochineal
35-jewelry made from silk cocoons
36- 98 year old Delfina talks about how they used to do things. In fact they haven't changed much.