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The Silk Route - Ocotlan Market, Mexico
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Mexico: Black Pottery, Weaving & Ocotlan
July 2016

Black Pottery at San Bartolo Coyotopec & Weaving at San Tomas Jalietza Ocotlan Market
Rodolfo Morales mural, Ocotlan

 

A very good demonstration of how the black finish is achieved on the pottery of San Bartolo Coyotopec, traditional weaving by women only in San Tomas Jalietza, and a very industrious market at Ocotlan.

 

Black Pottery

Mama Rosa Black Pottery inventor

This was another really good demonstration of a local craft (we'd already seen a superb explanation of traditional dyeing), enlivened by there being a group of school children present on a school trip.

Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec
Showroom of the family pottery works.
Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec

The black pottery is unique to the village of San Bartolo Coyotopec - there are other villages dedicated to other coloured pottery such as green.

Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec

The grandmother of the man doing the demo was the now-legendary Dona Rosa who discovered the method of creating the black pottery. Pottery made with the local clay is grey. but burnishing unfired pottery with a lump of quartz produces a beautiful black shiny surface on the finished pot.

Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec
Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec
Traditional circular wood fired pit for firing the clay pots.
Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec
We bought the plain pot on the top shelf to the right (also bought a little elephant!).

Video: black pottery at San Bartolo Coyotopec.

Video: backstrap weaving at San Tomas Jalietza.

Black Pottery San Bartolo Coyotopec

We went on the the weaving centre of San Tomas Jalietza for a demo of backstrap weaving which we have seen many, many times.. It is an impressively simple system.

Only women weave in the village and they memorise the patterns - nothing is written down.

 

Ocotlan

Ocotlan market

 

It being a Friday we were able to visit the huge market in Ocotlan where many of the hill village people come to trade.

A colourful affair with a huge variety of produce, household items, clothing and lots of hats for sale.

Ocotlan market
Ocotlan market

 

Ocotlan market
There is a lot of plastic being used.
Ocotlan market
Looking more like a French bakery!

A couple of stalls were selling lumps of limestone. This is added to the water to make an alkaline solution when boiling corn for tortillas. The process is called nixtamalisation and it improves the nutritional quality of the corn tortillas.1

Ocotlan market
Traditionally in preparing the corn for tortillas the kernels are boiled with ground limestone.
Ocotlan market
Prickly pear fruit at the front.
Ocotlan market
Nuts left and centre but I don't know what the stuff is on the right.
Ocotlan market

As always on the streets of Mexico and in the markets, there is lots of food on offer.

Ocotlan market
I think the jars contain honey, the long yellow things could be yam.

 

Ocotlan market
More hats!
Ocotlan market

The municipal palace has beautiful colourful murals by the Ocotlan artist Rodolfo Morales.2

Ocotlan market
Mural in the Municipal Palace, Rodolfo Morales.
Ocotlan market
Prawns and dried fish.
Ocotlan market
I love the look of the mother, full of pride.
Ocotlan market
The red fruit are rambutan, on the upper right of the basket is one that has been half peeled to reveal the white interior.
Ocotlan market
Mural in the Municipal Palace, Rodolfo Morales.
Ocotlan market
Ocotlan market
There seemed to be a lot of dried leaves here, and something that looks like a chimney sweep's brush!
Ocotlan market
Peppers and avocados.

The market is large, mostly under cover but spilling out onto the surrounding streets and squares. It's very industrious - very few people in any kind of traditional dress and everyone studiously working or catching up with friends in the little square in front of the market hall or in the shady arcade of the municipal palace.

 

References

  1. Science Direct: Nixtamalization
  2. Rodolfo Morales, obituary, LA Times, Feb 1, 2001.