Rebozo Love

Posted: Apr 22 2015

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I fell in love with Mexico in the 1980’s.  It was then, on a trip to Oaxaca, that I bought my first rebozo.

I noticed that they were ubiquitous among the indigenous women, who used them for everything from warmth on cooler evenings to carrying infants or other cargo on their backs.

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I brought two simple black and white cotton ones back with me.  I still have them and they are among my favorite things to wear.  

I can remember returning from my trip that January to a slushy New York, wrapped in one of those rebozos as I rode the subway to back to work.  It made me feel proudly set apart from what seemed like a monochrome world after having spent time in Oaxaca.  It made me feel protected.  I got it. It was then that I began to understand what the rebozo was about.

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 My love for Mexico only grew and many more trips were to follow.  In 2012 my husband and I moved to Tulum for a long stay.

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In Spring of 2014 when I set out to source artisan crafted textiles and jewelry for Peoplemade, the first thing on my to do list was to find the finest rebozos in Mexico.  It took a lot of sleuthing but I found what I consider to be the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen.

 On a trip to Guerrero, I was lucky enough to meet Camelia Ramos.

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 Camelia has made the conservation of traditional rebozo weaving her life’s work.  She learned the craft from her father who came from a family of weavers. The old techniques are now at risk of extinction but she seeks to pass this craft onto others in a weaving school that is slowly taking shape.

Here is a view from the site of what will soon be Camelia’s school.

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Each one Camelia’s pieces is unique.  The larger ones can have a warp of over 5000 threads and are woven by hand on either backstrap or pedal looms. 

She then carries the partially finished rebozos up into the small mountain villages surrounding her town, where woman hand weave the ends into “rapacejos” which are intricately knotted patterns of traditional design.  

The cloth patterns are created by using the Ikat resistance dying technique.  All of the dyes come from natural sources such as cochineal, Indigo and nuts from the huisache tree.

In future posts I’ll tell you more about the process of making each rebozo and also about the great work that is being done by Camelia and her husband Jose to preserve a great Mexican cultural heritage.

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