Home PageDyeingThe Son of a Shellfish Dyer Carves Gourds

Apr 10

The Son of a Shellfish Dyer Carves Gourds

There’s a point during traveling, especially in a land where customs, language, and terrain are different than one’s home, when the “home” life slips into the far recesses of the mind and the present envelopes you. This usually happens to me about 4-5 days into a trip. Today was that day.

We left the coastal travel of Oaxaca behind and drove inland stopping in Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero for lunch at a small cafe. Within minutes of sitting down, there was a tremor of an earthquake–a first experience for me, a common occurrence for those who live here. Conversations continued on. Food orders taken. Our meal was just darn-good Mexican comida–chicken mole, hot-off-the-comal tortillas, and quench-thirsting hibiscus ice tea. But no time for a siesta as our next stop was the home of Habacuc Avendaño, a traditional purple shell dyer, in the village of Pinotepa de Don Luis.

After being graciously greeted and introduced to Habacuc Avendaño and his son José, we met his wife and daughters, who are weavers, and his sister, who leads the local weaving cooperative. Short and long handwoven huiples, accented with purple shellfish-dyed yarn, were hung on corded lines strung across the courtyard. We drew up chairs under these tantalizing weavings and listened to Habacuc talk about the history of shellfish dyeing in this region. (More on that in a few weeks). The whole time he spoke, José sat off to the side, carving a gourd.

Some gourds are carved specifically for making buttons, requiring a different way of designing over the surface of the gourd.

Right before our departure, José finished the bowl he was carving, signed it, and our fellow traveler Maggie Casey purchased this exquisite gourd bowl created before our very eyes. We bought some smaller spinning support bowls and snapped up whatever buttons we could for the ClothRoads store.

Here’s how you can help support the textile artisans–spread the word. Share this blog with your friends and through social media. Buy items in the ClothRoads store or at an upcoming event. Your support matters to their lives.

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