Textiles scene in San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas

San Cristóbal de Las Casas is a space where you can appreciate the fashion influences of the world market, indigenous and non-indigenous groups (national and foreign) converge to develop a product in the process of change.

* This research is part of a compilation, the book is entitled “Ruralities, labor culture and feminisms in the southeast of Mexico”, published in 2018.

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Masaya del Rasso Sáyago, a teacher in Social and Humanistic Sciences from the Center for Higher Studies of Mexico and Central America, presented an investigation of the textile scene in the municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, characterized as an economic center and regional head of Los Altos, for being the confluence of various actors, both of local origin, and those who represent the regional, national and foreign population.

Rasso mentions that these make up a center for the exchange and trade of various products between the countryside and the city, they work through traditional mechanisms such as street markets, fairs and religious festivals, which allows certain forms of cultural life to be articulated on a regular basis.

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The researcher adds that, in the center of San Cristóbal de las Casas, the establishment of a specific trade oriented to the sale of cultural products is observed, including regional textiles, which present a dynamic of exchange that over the years has evolved.

The Altos region has undergone accelerated and significant changes in its textile production and marketing process. Due to the innovation promoted by external agents that have settled in the area, they directly or indirectly influence indigenous producers. Another factor is the market demand, the need to offer the consumer new models and a greater range for their choice, says Rasso.

The teacher mentions that the competition imposed by the capitalist market, not only in the field of textile crafts, motivates producers and marketers to look for strategies that help them obtain better income and often better profits.

Rasso says that the cost-benefit situation is a latent factor in the marketing of any product. The notion of fashion affects textile garments and causes their designs to be modified. The manufacturing industry, with the introduction of new fabrics and threads in the market, make up substantial inputs for the transformation of the items that are sold in the various textile sites.

The creative regional textile industry involves a part of the Tsotsil and Tzeltal population of Los Altos de Chiapas.

The researcher adds another element of change that is observed in the field of textiles in the Altos region and is the arrival of subjects from other regions of the country and abroad, who play an important role in the transformation of textile production, “Imposing their ideas”. These characters have brought new profiles to the textile, not only innovating in their presentation but also proposing in the designs.

Given this, Rasso emphasizes the producer, with an indigenous profile that has knowledge inherited from generation to generation. A guy who has often found himself vulnerable to the entry of other actors into the production process, and who is often relegated to the background, becoming a subordinate group.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in addition to being an important tourist center, was named a “creative city” in 2015, as it receives a significant flow of visitors a year. It has various scenarios for leisure and consumption by tourists, among which its walkers stand out, they connect to the first square of the city and offer a significant number of shops, most of which sell artisan products, including those derived from textiles, Rasso mentions.

The circuit drawn by the walkers is an axis that frames the distribution, circulation, and consumption of textile crafts in the city, in general networks are established for the circulation of products.

Rasso thinks that the value of the textile is transformed and acquires a different meaning than it had at the time of its creation. They are a clear example of the transformations that a “cultural asset” undergoes as a “product”.

Los Altos textile production has changed over the years, the meanings of the iconography, as well as the social and production relationships established by artisan families with the market. 

Market dynamics entail changes in the textile structure, from the production process, through distribution in its marketing quality, to its consumption. In the case of textiles from the Altos region, its market value has multiplied, due to the large number of “consumers”, tourists.

Rasso lists some complementary elements of the creative textile industry that are relevant to its formation and existence.

Cultural heritage, for most of the indigenous marketers found in the city, sell artisan pieces that are easy to identify with any ethnic group in the region, as well as the materials with which they are made, such as dyed threads and made threads of wool with which figures with various shapes are made, backpacks and some blouses, among other objects.

The festivals promote any creative work, among its categories is that of fashion design, a space that has served as a stage for new designers, many of whom make use of the textile pieces of the region.

In relation to libraries, the Museo de los Altos de Chiapas houses one that can be accessed by permit; the acquis is protected by INAH. The Na Bolom museum also has a small library that has some specimens related to the textile study of the area.

In print media, magazines and newspapers with state and national circulation, they talk about and highlight some of the scope of textile production in the region.

The above are some of the elements. These are usually oriented to the economic and political field, but they can also have a greater scope.

Source: chiapasparalelo.com

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