Rosa de Zinacantan (part 1)

“Upon arriving in San Cristobal, the first place where Rudy took me to visit was Zinacantan, or more precisely, Rosa’s house. They dressed me as a Zinacanteca, they made me make tortilla and we took pictures to which I always return with a nostalgic smile. This excursion marked the beginning of our story as a couple. Since then, I settled down in San Cristobal with my favorite guide. That’s why Rosa’s story is important to us and we want to share it with you”… [Monika]

Rosa de Zinacantan

Rosa told me that when her grandmother was a child, her mother had taught her to embroider. “My dear, you have to learn the trade. It takes time but you will see that we are good at doing this”,  said her grandmother at the same time showing her how to use a backstrap loom.

At that time, there were no flower designs on the clothes, basic colors were used, white and red predominated the dress, a combination that in the distance and with the sun resolum mixed to give a pink color. The raw material has been obtained from the sheep grazing, to then conver it to the thread that would later be transformed into clothing.

When Rosa grew up, she already had the knowledge of several generations of artisans.  She was sitting next to the fire with her backstrap loom and perfecting her art day after day.

Fifteen years ago, when I met Rosa Pérez, she kindly invited me to her house. The sign outside “Handicrafts San Sebastián” announced the showcase she and her family made. “When tourists get off the truck in the park, my daughters invite them to visit the house. Some of them buy handicrafts and so we earn some money. ”

I was lucky to sit next to her and her daughters Antonia and Estela, and learn with them, between talks and laughs, to make tortillas over the fire. In the middle of the kitchen, with a lot of pots and utensils hanging on the adobe wall. Rosa used to join her sisters and nieces and they sat down to shell the cobs and once the bucket almost overflowed, they took the corn kernels to the mill to get the dough. “The mill is not far. One bucket is enough to make tortilla for several dayst. Have some, they are very warm. During the festival time, we use the largest comal, the one you see there”, she said, pointing to a huge comal, about the size of a trailer’s tire, “Wow, gosh! That is to feed an entire gang of Panzudos!”, I said and laughed with them at the same time that I served myself with more groud pumpkin seeds on my tortilla.“It is so deliciou!”, I said.

“Now we are embroidering flowers of different colors on the dress. It is easier to get the thread. They bring it in trucks and sell it in the park on weekends. We buy it at a good price. They make us a wholesale discount”, she said  looking proudly at some finished clothes.

Chrysanthemums, roses, carnations and other varieties of flowers are planted around the town. The mild climate of the region favors flower cultivation. Cooperatives were created to access governmental support programs and a whole network of greenhouses has been installed, which strengenth this activity, fostering the local economy with  distribution of flowers and export to various parts of Mexico and abroad. Many of the families that have cultivated corn for generations are now conditioning their land to plant roses.

The story will continue….

[author: Rudy Robles. Copyright reserved by Experiencias Chiapas]

To get know the town of Zinacantan and the house of Rosa, come with us on a tour of Customs of the indigenous villages