Oaxaca Crafts: Where to
Buy Folk Art in Oaxaca City
by Ron Mader
Never underestimate the entertainment value of shopping.
Oaxaca is synonymous with Mexican folk art. Arte
popular has no finer home than Oaxaca
Whether you are seeking jewelry, woven rugs, shawls, ceramics
or elaborate wooden figures, the famous alebrijes,
you could be overwhelmed by the variety and quality of local
crafts. Our suggestion - take your time, check
out and add a star if you'd like to the photos, read a bit
before you arrive and visit a few of the stores and artesanos.
Take our Market Challenge:
Be respectful and listen to the soundscape.
Learn how to say 'thank you' in an indigenous language.
Oaxaca has 16 indigenous groups and more than 100 languages.
Here are a few
greetings from the Pochimilco Market.
Flickr: Print a photo you've seen on Flickr
and seek out the vendor or artisan. Give them what you have
Flickr Groups: Ask permission and take photo of signage, preferably
eco signs! Add these photos with the name of the market to World
Flickr Groups: Ask permission to take photos of animals depicted
in folk art. Add these photos with the name of the artisan to
El Arte Oaxaqueño, Mina #317 at the corner of J.P.
Garcia; 516-1581. Open 10am-8pm Monday to Saturday. In 1961
this store opened its doors and sells an eclectic mix of traditional
toys, woven baskets, lampshades, drums and tin frames (hojalata).
The owner, Nicodemus Bartolo Vazquez, includes a small brochure
with information about Oaxacan history and customs with each
purchase. It's a small store filled with treasures and well
worth a visit en route to the Mercado
de Artesanias. FLICKR
Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Artesanias, Garcia Vigil
#809, 514-0861. Open daily. This state-run institution (formerly
called Aripo) presents an exquisite collection of artesania.
Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca (MARO), 5 de Mayo
#204, 516-0670. Open 9am to 8pm every day. MARO is run as
a cooperative whose crafts women and administrators are involved
in all stages of production - from the purchase of raw materials
to selling their own products. FLICKR
Mercado de Artesanias is the largest market dedicated
exclusively to crafts in the city. Located five blocks southwest
of the Zócalo,
the market has a wide selection and great prices. Products
range from jewelry to rugs and wooden figures. Thanks to the
quality of the crafts, this is one of the nicest craft markets
in the country. Details
Comercial de las Etnias, Garcia Vigil #304, photo.
This cozy complex shows off regional crafts, clothes and chocolate.
Artesanias Teresita, Murguia #100-B. Victor Vazquez manages
a store that specializes in wooden figures (alebrijes).
Artesanias de buena
mano, Constitución #108. Francisco Jesus Hernandez
Perez runs this store across from Santo
Domingo and just east of the Pañuelto
Garden. Buena Mano specializes in replicas of exvotos,
bottlecap earrings and hand-made paper from the Taller Arte
Papel Oaxaca in San
Agustín Etla. Flickr
Mano Magica, Alcalá #203, 516-4275, sells
rugs and weavings as well as paintings and stylish curios.
Located across the across street from the Museum
of Contemporary Art, this is an impressive gallery. Website
de Artesanias de Oaxaca, Matamoros #105 at the corner
of Garcia Vigil, 516-5062. Open Monday-Saturday. This cooperative
includes more than 80 organizations and family workshops.
Mercado Benito Juárez is the town's oldest
market (inaugurated in 1893). Located two blocks southwest
of the Zócalo,
the market is a great place to buy crafts and local food.
Xicotencatl #418 (corner of Rayón), 514-6618. Traditional
clothing, including dresses from the Istmo
and men's guayabera shirts. Beautiful quality.
Quality textiles and embroidered blouses and dresses.
Oro de Monte
Albán, Alcalá #403, #503, photo.
Jewelry is styled with Zapotec designs from Monte
Albán and other archaeological sites. In 1947 Rosa
Quevedo and her daughter Tere Calvo started a family business
opening the first jewelry shop in town. In 1985 they received
authorization of the National Institute of Anthropology and
History of Mexico to reproduce ancient works of indigenous art.
La Forteleza, Constitución #200 and
Reforma. This store sells cold drinks and Fuego Interno matchboxes
made by La
If you are seeking quality embroidered textiles, visit Adolfina,
Baules and Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones
de Oaxaca (MARO).
Want something light and inexpensive? Check out the clothes
made from muslin
or calico (manta) at the Mercado
de Artesanias. Among the advantages of clothes made from
manta -- it's an authentic display of embroidery, it's light
and it's beautiful (Fresca, linda, autentica!).
Gift bags and wrapping paper are sold at Manzano, located
in the Abasto(s) Market, Local #273 and 20 de Noviembre #305. Over the
holidays, look for bright-colored lanterns (farolas).
Cristaleria Juquilita, at the corner of Independencia and
Reforma, sells housewares including an astonishing amount of
colorful plastic. This is not on the standard craft tour, but
it's worth a look.
Not standard crafts but the place to go if you want the local
pop cycle molds - El Cisne, Zaragoza #304
SPIDER ART - Local artist Boris
'Spider' shows kids of all ages how to make artistic creations
at Alcala #902-Bis. Summer workshops run during the school vacations,
particularly July-August. Slideshow
A FEW WORDS ABOUT BUYING CRAFTS
GO ON YOUR OWN OR WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
- If you visit craft villages on your own, 100% of your purchases
go the artisans. Many package tours insist on a commission (paid
from the artisan to the guide) and rates can go up to 40%. If
you go on your own, you'll see authentic production, not a show.
FOR THE LAZY - Vendors stroll the tables on
in the afternoons and evenings. They sell toys and trinkets
and all sorts of crafts. It's an easy way to make purchases,
particularly if you want a wooden comb or a rebozo.
PRICING - Prices vary depending on the quality
of the product and where you make your purchase. That said,
prices in the Mercado
de Artesanias are generally no higher than what you find
in artesan homes.
MEASURING - If you are purchasing a rug, you
might want to take a measuring tape, particularly if you are
looking for a particular size.
SHIPPING - Most craft shops can pack your
purchases for shipment. So if you see something fragile you'd
like, ask if they can pack the materials securely.
AIRLINE PASSENGERS - Metal and tin crafts
mirrors and any sharp object (including knives) must be packed
in checked luggage.
FOR MORE INFO - Shoppers interested in learning
how traditional craft production fits in to conscientious travel
and ecotourism should review our guide to Tourism
del Pueblo, run by Rosa Blum Perez, closed its doors in 2007.
Plazuela closed its doors on Alcalá in December 2009.
Arturo sells beautiful folk art. In the Ayuuk language the name
means means 'apoyos mutuos' or 'mutual help.' Flickr
THINK SMART, TRAVEL
Do you want to get to know a different side of
Oaxaca? Challenge yourself with a treasure